northern death adder

The northern death adder (Photo: Christopher Watson/Wikimedia)

A “Kimberley death adder” sounds like a creature that J.K. Rowling might have dreamed up and sent to kill Harry Potter, but in fact, it is a new type of very real snake—discovered recently in Western Australia.

Death adders are relatively common in Australia–scientists already knew there were death adders in the Northern Territory, but assumed the snakes in the west were the same species. But according to ABC public broadcasting, this is not the case. Herpetologists in the continent’s western region found that: “To our surprise, the snakes from the Kimberley turned out to be more closely related to desert death adders and the Pilbara death adder.”

That’s a lot of native death adders. (The Guardian headlined its story on the new snake, “Yet another deadly snake species discovered in Australia.”) Do they live up to their name? Should you be terrified of going to Australia and encountering one? Yes and no. Their venom is very deadly, but humans, clever as we are, have developed an antidote (and destroyed a fair bit of the snakes’ habitat.)

Still, a death adder is a death adder. These are about a foot-and-a-half long and have diamond-shaped heads. Probably best to just steer clear.

Bonus finds: Nanotech hiding in M&Msa whale hiding a decades-old hunting weapon in its tail

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