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New Venomous Snake Discovered In Western Australia

Sep 18, 2015 06:09 PM EDT
Desert Death Adder
A new species named the Kimberley death adder was discovered in Western Australia. It closely resembeles the desert death adders, one of which is pictured here.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

In an isolated region of Western Australia, another new species of death adders has been discovered. This one, named the Kimberley death adder, or Acanthophis cryptamydros, measures roughly 50 cm long.

According to a recent study published in Zootaxa, this new species uses a sit-and-wait method o fhunting, similar to that of many other death adders. It camouflages itself and waits patiently, luring birds and reptiles by dangling its tail much like fisherman use lures. When the moment is right, they pounce and capture their prey.

After comparing the Kimberley death adder to 15 snakes collected from the Northern Territory, researchers were able to distinguish it as unique.

"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, said in a statement

The Kimberly death adder has a diamond-shaped head with a unique scale formation.

"These snakes are super-camouflaged -- its idea is to look like a rock or a bunch of leaves. Unlike brown snakes, they aren't designed for speed at all; they are quite slow. 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," Doughty explained.  

Death adders are considered to be one of the world's most venomous snakes. According to The Independent, death adder venom is extremely poisonous, causing death from total paralysis and respiratory system within roughly six hours of being bitten. Before antivenom was available, 50 percent of these snake bites were fatal. 

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