New species of sea snake discovered

Feb 21, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have discovered a new species of sea snake in the Gulf of Carpenteria, northern Australia, which is unique in having raised scales.

The finding published in Zootaxa today by Associate Professor Bryan Fry from The University of Queensland's (UQ) School of and colleagues from The University of Adelaide, will provide important clues about evolution.

Associate Professor Fry said that Hydrophis donaldii had evaded earlier as it prefers estuarine habitats that are poorly surveyed and not targeted by .

“Weipa really is one of the last sea snake ‘Serengetis'. We can see over 200 sea snakes in a single night's hunting, whereas sea snake populations have really crashed elsewhere through over-fishing removing their prey and also the snakes drowning in trawling nets,” Associate Professor Fry said.

Associate Professor Fry said the findings extend beyond simply discovering a rare animal.

“All venomous animals are bio-resources and have provided sources of many life-saving medications, such as treatments for high-blood pressure and diabetes.

“This reinforces why we need to conserve all of nature as the next billion dollar wonder-drug may come from as unlikely a source as venom.”

The snake has been given the scientific name Hydrophis donaldii to honour Associate Professor Fry's long-time boat captain David Donald.

“Quite simply we would not have found this snake without Dave's unique knowledge of the area. I told him we wanted to survey as many distinct types of as possible and he guided us to the perfect spots,” Associate Professor Fry said.

The snake has been given the common-name ‘rough-scaled sea snake' to reflect the unique scalation.

“We don't know why it has been evolutionarily selected to have such unique scalation, but we will next study its ecology to learn more about it.”

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

More information: Paper preview: www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2012/f/z03201p057f.pdf
Full paper: www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2012/2/zt03201p057.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Snake venoms have not revealed all their secrets

Mar 23, 2011

For several decades, snake venoms have been used in pharmacology to make new drugs. But a French team of pharmacologists, clinicians, systematists and conservation biologists, headed by Nicolas Vidal of the ...

Squirrels use snake scent

Dec 19, 2007

California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew up rattlesnake skin and smear it on their fur to mask their scent from predators, according to a new study by researchers at UC Davis.

Health check on England's only venomous snake

Mar 29, 2011

Snake experts from Natural England, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Oxford University have teamed up to perform a vital health check on Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder, following worrying ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...