Researchers Discover a New Species of Venomous Snake in Australia


July 26, 2018

An international team of researchers has discovered a new species of venomous snake in Australia. This small snake is found only in Australia and has been named Weipa bandy-bandy by the researchers. Its scientific name is Vermicella parscauda, and it belongs to a group of poisonous snakes known as burrowing elapids. Weipa bandy bandy is about 50–100 cm in length and features black and white stripes on its body.

The Weipa bandy-bandy was discovered in 2014 by Dr Freek Vonk from Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Dr Bryan Fry from the University of Queensland. The snake was found in Cape York Peninsula when Dr Vonk and Dr Bryan Fry were on a field trip in the region. In 2016, a team member of Dr Fry’s lab saw another Weipa bandy-bandy, a sign that they might have actually found a new species. Researchers collected genetic samples from this new snake and compared them with other bandy-bandy species.  Results revealed that it was indeed a new, evolutionarily distinct species.

According to scientists, the venom of this snake poses no risk to humans and could actually be beneficial for humans due to medicinal properties.

“We are extremely excited to have identified this new species,” said Dr Kevin Arbuckle, who leads the molecular data analysis part of the research at Swansea University.

Dr Kevin revealed that after analyzing the molecular data, the team discovered that they had actually found a new species of bandy-bandy snake.

 

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Australia already has several species of venomous snakes, but this new species is special because of its distinct medicinal benefits, says Dr Arbuckle, who also revealed that this snake prefer living in secretive habitats.

“In fact, once the venom of this new species is investigated, its complex mixture of biologically active chemicals has the potential to lead to future drug developments that could help humans,” Dr Kevin said.

The details about this new snake species are published in the journal Zootaxa.

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