Monday, March 19, 2007

A Deadly New Species

Late in 2005, an Australian herpetologist, Dr Mark Hutchinson, caught an odd-looking snake snake crossing a dirt road in the central desert of Western Australia. The meter-long animal turned out to be a new species of the highly venomous taipan. Biologist Richard Shine commented, "My initial reaction is that this is really exciting. Taipans are such an icon of Australia. To discover that there's an entirely new taipan, more than a hundred years after the last one, really gives us an idea of what might be out there. It does seem remarkable that such large animals of general interest are quite poorly known." He added, "Maybe that reflects how few people are interested in going out to catch large snakes on hot days."

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