Aussie snakes slither into species book

Jul 05, 2013
A deadly Australian eastern brown snake is photographed in Sydney, Australia on September 25, 2012. Scientists have added dozens of Australian species to a family of small worm-like snakes called Scolecophidia, which are some of the least-understood creatures on Earth.

Scientists have added dozens of Australian species to the family of small worm-like snakes called Scolecophidia, which are some of the least-understood creatures on Earth.

Researchers from France, Australia and the United States analysed the genomes of 741 animals from 27 recognised species in a subgroup known as Australian blind snakes.

The data suggest the number of species is "at least two times the current number of recognised, nominal species," said a summary of the results, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Snakes are divided into two major groups: Scolecophidia, which are generally less than 30 centimetres (12 inches) long, and the more common Alethinophidia, which include boas, , cobras and vipers.

There were previously 3,432 recognised species, according to a joint statement by France's CNRS national research centre and National Museum of Natural History.

Of these, there were 402 known species of Scolecophidia. But the new findings suggest the sub-group of blind snakes alone may have between 29 and 65 hitherto unknown types.

"If this pattern were to repeat on a global scale, it would mean that the number of recognised Scolecophidia species is between 830 and 1,370 species instead of the current 402," said the statement.

Explore further: Biologists map the family tree of all known snake and lizard groups

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New snake species found in a museum

Oct 25, 2012

Scandinavian scientists have discovered a new species of snake in a Copenhagen museum, which they have called the Mosaic sea snake, a Swedish university said on Thursday.

Deadly sea snake has a doppelganger

Nov 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—Scientists have discovered that the lethal beaked sea snake is actually two species with separate evolutions, which resulted in identical snakes.

Recommended for you

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

5 hours ago

(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

22 hours ago

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

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...