Scientists say they’ve discovered a new species of deadly snake in Australia: the Kimberley death adder.
The snake is named for the remote region of Kimberley, located in Western Australia. The adder is endemic to the region.
Researchers recently discovered that the Kimberley death adder, or Acanthophis cryptamydros, is unique from other death adders found in surrounding regions after comparing the reptile to more than a dozen snakes from Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
“It was a surprise to see that the Kimberley has its own death adder, more closely related to the desert death adders out there,” Paul Doughty, curator of herpetology at the Western Australian Museum and one of the researchers involved in the study, told The Guardian.
The study was published in the journal Zootaxa.
The Kimberley death adder is about 20 inches long and has a diamond-shaped head.
Like other death adders, which are known for being extremely venomous, it is a “sit and wait” predator that lies quietly before striking its prey. Birds, lizards and small mammals are its preferred food.
“These snakes are super-camouflaged -- its idea is to look like a rock or a bunch of leaves. Unlike a brown snake they aren’t designed for speed at all, they are quite slow,” Doughty told The Guardian. “They use their tail like a lure, they will dangle it down while it’s hidden until a lizard or something comes close and then it will strike.”
“They are in the top 10 venomous snakes in the world. You definitely have to handle them carefully,” he added.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Kimberley death adder is considered a rare species. Doughty told the news outlet that in all his years of studying snakes in the region, he has only ever seen one in the wild.
Australia is home to some of the world's deadliest snakes, including the Tiger snake and the Inland taipan.
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