Death Adder Discovered in Australia How Was This Missed For years

Newly Discovered Reptile May Have Been Confused with Similar Species!

You would think that Scientists would know their snakes especially in Northern Australia? It looks like this one went under the Radar for years. Somehow it’s managed to avoid being discovered but a new study has finally identified a new breed of Death Adder – Acanthophis cryptamydros. Just like many other Death Adders it’s light brown in colour and is around 20 inches or 50cm long.

Read on to find out how they identified this particular snake

“It was a huge surprise. We weren’t even looking for a new species. I redid my work to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake,” says study leader Simon Maddock, a Ph.D. student in a joint program at University College Londonand the Natural History Museum, London.

Maddock made his discovery not by trekking through the Australian outback but by studying the DNA of various death adders, a group of snakes native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia that are among the world’s most venomous.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Many of the approximately eight species of death adder—there’s some controversy about exactly how many species exist—are hard to tell apart, since individuals of the same species can sport remarkably different colors and patterns.

The newfound death adder “looks a lot like the northern death adder, A. rugosus, and that’s probably why no one discovered it until now,” Maddock notes.

Using various death adder DNA from museums and some gathered specifically for his work, Maddock and colleagues sequenced certain genes into figure out how and when the reptiles evolved.

“When we looked at our DNA data, we found there was one group of snakes that were really, really different,” said Maddock, whose study was published recently in the journal Zootaxa.

To show definitively that he had discovered a new species, Maddock requested additional specimens from museums around the world, and his colleagues went into the field to capture more snakes. In total, he analyzed 112 specimens, including 32 of the new death adder species.

Despite their ominous name, death adders don’t seek out people, and will only bite if they feel a threat is very close. Some believe that the term “death adder” is likely a confusion of “deaf adder,” since these snakes cannot hear sounds.

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