If you have a phobia of snakes Australia really isn’t the ideal place to live. And just in case we didn’t have enough of the creatures already, scientists have just discovered a new species of venomous snake here down under. Yippee…
That’s right, not only are we home to the deadly brown snake, but now a team of biologists from The University of Queensland have discovered that we’re also home to a new species of bandy-bandy snake.
The team, led by Associate Professor of The University of Queensland Bryan Fry, uncovered the snake by chance when returning from a sea snack research mission on the west coast of the Cape York peninsula in Queensland’s far north.
Professor Fry said that the team was returning from a night of sea snake spotting when they made the shock discovery. The bandy-bandy snake is typically a burrowing snake but this particular one had been sitting on a concrete block by the sea.
“We later discovered that the snake had slithered over from a pile of bauxite rubble waiting to be loaded onto a ship,” he said.
Professor Fry explained that they decided to get a closer look at the snake… tbh our instinct would’ve been to run away but hey that’s why they’re the researchers and we aren’t right?
“On examination by my student Chantelle Derez, the bandy-bandy turned out to be a new species, visually and genetically distinct from those found on the Australia East coast and parts of the interior.”
In total, six observations of the new species of snake were recorded in the small area. The team found a second snake in it’s natural habitat near Weipa and another killed by a car close to a mine. Two more sightings were found in museum collections and a photo of another was also found.
Despite these discoveries, Professor Fry said that this new species could already be in danger of extinction.
“Bauxite mining is a major economic activity in the region, and it may be reshaping the environment to the detriment of native plants and animals,” he said.
“The importance of such discoveries goes beyond simply documenting what is out there, as venoms are rich sources of compounds that can be used to develop new medications.
“Every species is precious and re need to protect them all, since we can’t predict where the next wonder-drug will come from.
“The discovery of this enigmatic little snake is symptomatic of the much more fundamental problem of how little we know about our biodiversity and how much may be lost before we even discover it.”