A team of researchers from Bangor University and the Western Australian Museum recently identified a new species of the highly venomous snakes commonly called death adders. The snake, which was discovered in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, was officially designated Acanthophis cryptamydros, the Kimberley death adder.
It may not look menacing with its light coloring and 24-inch length, but the snake is a highly capable predator. According to a news release from the Natural History Museum, the Kimberley death adder is a “sit-and-wait predator” that prefers to ambush small prey rather than actively hunt.
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Like most death adders, scientists believe the new species is found across Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands. The snake is considered relatively rare—but that does not mean that they are not dangerous. Death adders can be especially problematic for humans because unlike other snakes, they rarely shy away from people. While other venomous snakes will leave at the first sign of human intrusion, death adders will instead wait until whatever causing the commotion is close enough to strike. That is why early settlers first called the snakes “deaf adders” under the belief that they could not hear. However, the potency of their venom and a reported 50 percent fatality rate from a bite led to their new and much more ominous name.
Lethal incidents are much rarer now due to the existence of antivenin, but experts are still wary of these dangerous critters.