‘Fast hunting’ new venomous snake species discovered in Australian Outback

In Australia’s outback, a team of researchers from a university and a museum has found a new deadly snake species.

The desert whip snake, Demansia Cyanochasma, is found in remote desert regions of Central Australia, the eastern parts of the Northern Territory, and across Western Australia.

These snakes were previously classed as a similar species, but a new study has discovered significant differences that justify their categorization as a different species.

The team, led by geneticist James Nankivell of the University of Adelaide, along with honorary researcher Mark Hutchinson of the South Australian Museum and Perth researchers Brad Maryan and Brian Bush, conducted tests on tissue samples that resulted in the correct identification of this rare species.

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The desert whip snake is poisonous, but it does not pose a substantial threat to humans.

According to Dr Hutchinson, they average 70cm in length and have a slender body, resulting in a small head and short fangs for their size.

While they may bite if provoked or touched, there have been no reports of these snakes inflicting serious bites on humans.

Despite their venom, snake fangs are better suited to capture small prey such as fast desert lizards, allowing them to be active predators during the day.

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Dr Hutchinson said: “The cool thing about whip snakes is they’re fast-moving and have these big eyes,’ Nankivell told Nine.

“They’re active predators that are out during the day to hunt down prey.

“Their striking blueish and copper-colored bodies inspired their scientific name, ‘demansia cyanochasma,’ meaning ‘blue gap.”

According to Nankivell’s comments to Nine, whip snakes are fascinating due to their fast movements and huge eyes.

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These characteristics make them active predators who hunt during the day to catch their prey.

These snakes’ distinctive blueish and copper-coloured look prompted its scientific name, ‘demansia cyanochasma’, which translates to ‘blue gap’.

Whip snakes are the most diversified group of venomous snakes in Australia, with colour changes being the key distinguishing element among the 15 known species.

Despite the existing knowledge of 15 whip snake species, researchers believe that more whip snake species may exist, particularly in tropical areas. Nankivell speculated on the likelihood of previously unknown species lurking in the tropics.

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