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Australia has a new venomous snake - And it may already be threatened
#1
Australia has a new venomous snake - And it may already be threatened

Date: July 16, 2018
Source: University of Queensland

[Image: 180716103554_1_900x600.jpg]
This is the newly discovered bandy bandy snake.
Credit: Bryan Fry

The ink has not yet dried on a scientific paper describing a new species of snake, yet the reptile may already be in danger of extinction due to mining.

A team of biologists led by The University of Queensland's Associate Professor Bryan Fry discovered a new species of bandy-bandy snake at Weipa on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula.

Professor Fry said the chance discovery occurred when the team was undertaking sea snake research.

"Bandy-bandies are burrowing snakes, so Freek Vonk from the Naturalis Museum and I were surprised when we found it on a concrete block by the sea, after coming in from a night of sea snake spotting," Professor Fry said.

"We later discovered that the snake had slithered over from a pile of bauxite rubble waiting to be loaded onto a ship.

"On examination by my student Chantelle Durez, the bandy-bandy turned out to be a new species, visually and genetically distinct from those found on the Australian East coast and parts of the interior."

The team found another specimen in its natural habitat near Weipa, and another killed by a car close to the mine.

Two more specimens were found in museum collections and a photo was found of another, contributing to a tally of six observations in the same small area.

Professor Fry said he feared the new species could be in trouble.

"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," Professor Fry 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 we 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."

Story Source: University of Queensland. "Australia has a new venomous snake -- And it may already be threatened." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180716103554.htm (accessed July 16, 2018).




Journal Reference:
Chantelle M. Derez, Kevin Arbuckle, Zhiqiang Ruan, Bing Xie, Yu Huang, Lauren Dibben, Qiong Shi, Freek J. Vonk, Bryan G. Fry. A new species of bandy-bandy (Vermicella: Serpentes: Elapidae) from the Weipa region, Cape York, Australia. Zootaxa, 2018; 4446 (1): 1 DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4446.1.1

[Image: Vermicella_parscauda-novataxa_2018-Derez...t-al--.jpg]
Vermicella parscauda

Abstract
Bandy-bandies (genus Vermicella) are small (50–100cm) black and white burrowing elapids with a highly specialised diet of blindsnakes (Typhlopidae). There are currently 5 recognized species in the genus, all located in Australia, with Vermicella annulata the most encountered species with the largest distribution. Morphological and mitochondrial analyses of specimens collected from the Weipa area, Cape York, Queensland reveal the existence of a new species, which we describe as Vermicella parscauda sp. nov. Mitochondrial DNA analysis (16S and ND4) and external morphological characteristics indicate that the closest relatives of the new species are not V. annulata, which also occurs on Cape York, but rather species from Western Australia and the Northern Territory (V. intermedia and V. multifasciata) which, like V. parscauda, occupy monsoon habitats. Internasal scales are present in V. parscauda sp. nov., similar to V. annulata, but V. intermedia and V. multifasciata do not have nasal scales. V. parscauda sp. nov. has 55–94 black dorsal bands and mottled or black ventral scales terminating approximately 2/3rds of the body into formed black rings, suggesting that hyper-banding is a characteristic of the tropical monsoon snakes (V. intermedia, V. multifasciata and V. parscauda). The confined locality, potential habitat disruption due to mining activities, and scarcity of specimens indicates an urgent conservation concern for this species.

https://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4446.1.1 
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#2
Australia has some of the most poisonouse animals.

Good discovery there.
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