Ancient Greeks used snakes as projectile weapons


People in ancient Greece used snakes as projectile weapons during sea battles, explains Gianni Insacco, a zoologist/paleontologist at Italy's Insacco Museo Civico di Storia Naturale.

Insacco's research team just reported that one of the weaponized species, the Javelin Sand Boa that was likely introduced to Italy by the Greeks during wartime, has survived in Sicily after not having been spotted for nearly 100 years.

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Watch a rattlesnake strike a GoPro camera


A fellow was recording rattlesnakes when one struck the device, knocking it into a pit teeming with the serpents. More footage below:

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Gentleman snake


This snake, outfitted in plasticine finery, is ready for a slithering good time. Read the rest

We were wrong about how boa constrictors kill their prey


Since we were kids, we've been taught that a boa constrictor wraps itself around its prey and suffocate it. A new study suggests that's incorrect. Read the rest

Venomous snake kills teenage pet store worker, then escapes


A venomous monocled cobra has escaped near Austin, Texas after biting and killing an 18-year-old pet store employee who was keeping it at his home. Grant Thompson was found unresponsive in a parking lot with puncture wounds on his wrist. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police found six tarantulas, a foot-long non-venomous Mexican hognose snake, and an African bullfrog in Thompson's car.

Austin Animal Services is not going to look for the snake. “It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Austin Animal Services spokeswoman Patricia Fraga.

Monocled cobras are native to South and Southeast Asia. They are highly venomous and very common in Thailand. According to Wikipedia: the "monocled cobra causes the highest fatality due to snake venom poisoning in Thailand."

Thailand Snakes has a good info page about monocled cobras, where they are described as "fierce."

Here's a video that is likely to make you respectful towards monocled cobras:

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Scariest snake on the planet


The split-tailed horned viper has the head of a snake but its tail looks like a spider. This adaptation allows it to attract birds to munch on.

Nature sure is beautiful, but also as scary as fuck.

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Terrorists killed by possessed bees and snakes

Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, known for kidnapping hundreds of school girls, are fleeing their forest hideouts to escape "mystical bees" and "mysterious snakes" that are physical manifestations of the people they have killed. Read the rest

Afraid of snakes? Don't watch.

In the winter, tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes gather in the Narcisse Snake Pits of Manitoba, Candada to mate. Read the rest

Snake species missing for nearly 80 years rediscovered

This 18-inch Clarion Nightsnake (Hypsiglena unaocularus), found on black lava rock habitat on the island of Clarion, is darker in color than its mainland relatives and has a distinctive pattern of spots on its head and neck. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)

A science mystery, solved! After going missing for 78 years, the Clarion nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha unaocularus), a nocturnal snake first discovered in the 19th century, then struck from the scientific record, has been rediscovered. Read the rest

Tongues aren't just for smelling

After you spent all that time in grade school conditioning yourself to know that snakes stick out their tongues in order to smell things, it turns out that those tricksy animals were also tasting with their tongues, all along. Read the rest

Decapitated copperhead bites self

"It finally quit movin' though, now that it bit itself," says our intrepid narrator.

And that, writes wildlife ecologist David Steen, could have something to do with the fact that a decapitated copperhead head can still inject venom. More importantly, if it did, the rest of the snake's body likely wouldn't have any special defense against that venom.

This isn't an area where there has been a lot of research and experimentation (just imagine the required permits!), but snakes do not have special immunity from their own venom. When venom is stored in a snake's body, it is located within specially-evolved glands that can safely contain it. This is the same basic idea that allows us to hold potentially harmful stuff in our appendix or gall bladder. If chemicals escaped from a snake's venom gland (or our appendix or gall bladder), it would be bad news.

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Snake wine drinker suffers bite

A Chinese woman reportedly suffered a snake bite when the reptile jumped from her wine bottle and struck her hand. Apparently, the woman from Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang Province had been drinking pickled snake wine to treat her rheumatism, but this particular snake was still living. Snake wine is a common curative in traditional Chinese medicine. (Global Times)

(image: Genghiskhanviet/Wikipedia/CC) Read the rest

Video: Snake eats snake

A baby king cobra dines on a water snake. (via National Geographic) Read the rest

Escaping python

I'm delighted by this video of a pet python, titled "Julius Escaping." This lovely creature passed on last year. RIP, Julius. Read the rest

Are you a pessimist or an optimist when it comes to giant snakes?

Tired of measuring your relative pessimism/optimism by half-empty and half-full glassware? Try this new method, courtesy herpetologist Michael Dorcas. Read the following quote, then decide — is this fact comforting or distressing: "We’ve walked right past a 15-foot python without seeing it." Also potentially relevant to your interests: PBS' 2012 documentary about dissecting a giant python. Read the rest

Stunning snake portraits

In 2011, photographer Mark Laita created Sea, a book of stunning portraits of strange ocean creatures. Now comes Serpentine, in which Laita points his lens at a stunning series of snakes. Above, Rowley’s Palm Pit Viper (Bothriechis rowleyi).

Serpentine by Mark Laita (Amazon)

"Snakes in a Frame: Mark Laita’s Stunning Photographs of Slithering Beasts" (Smithsonian) Read the rest

Medical cures from the mouth of a mamba

Here, scientists suck all the dignity out of a Jameson’s mamba — a snake capable of killing a human in just a few, painful hours. The photo is part of a story in the February issue of National Geographic, exploring the potential medical uses of venom. There are also more photos. And you will meet cobra farmers.

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