An extremely rare species of snake was discovered in Australia.
Mother Nature would like for us to keep our guard up, thank you.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia stumbled upon a new species of what has been affectionately termed as the bandy-bandy snake (on account of the bands that appear on their body) completely by accident while on an unrelated expedition to research on sea snakes at the Weipa region on the tip of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula in 2014.
“This one was actually just by complete fluke,” lead researcher, associate professor Bryan Fry, told BuzzFeed News.
“We were out doing sea snake research and when we came into the dock that night, there at the end of the pier was a little bandy-bandy.”
Known as Vermicella parscauda, the researchers believe the stripey little guy escaped from a nearby Rio Tinto ship that was loading ore from a bauxite mine.
“We were like, ‘What are you doing here? You’re a burrowing snake, you’re not supposed to be on a fishing dock!'”
Buzzfeed reports that while the snake was found in 2014, they needed more time to assess its genetics and morphology.
Their finding were published in the Zootaxa journal just this month.
The parscauda has more bands than other known species of bandy-bandy; notes the study, and while it is venomous, it does not pose a danger to humans because its venom is designed to prey on blind snakes and not larger mammals such as ourselves.
Plus, the snake is thought to be extremely rare.
“With all of our intensive searching and looking through every museum specimen that we could find, and contacting people from the area and looking at photos of anything remotely like it, we could only find six,” said Fry.
The University of Queensland team has also formally filed with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to have the snake declared as a threatened species.
The researchers believe that bauxite mining is destroying the snake’s habitat and could wipe it out completely.
“We’re using it as a flagship species for that broader conversation of what kind of economy we want – do we want a short-term, low-tech economy of digging holes in the ground or do we want a sustainable economy that’s built around using our biodiversity in a sustainable manner?”