Added bite to snake discovery
Posted by Miqe on December 9, 2007
WELSH snake experts have discovered a new species of giant spitting cobra that can kill 20 people with a single dose of venom.
Specialists at Bangor University ran DNA tests on a 9ft beast found in Kenya – one of the deadliest creatures alive – and confirmed it was of a kind never before seen.
The snake, named Naja Ashei after James Ashe, the man who first suspected it was of a separate species, was found lurking in one of the country’s up-and-coming tourist areas and is the largest of its kind in the world.
Mr Ashe, who died in 2004, founded the Bio-Ken Snake Farm research centre in Watamu and had suspected the existence of the lethal serpent in the region for years.
But it wasn’t until Dr Woldgang Wuster of the University of Wales analysed samples of the creature’s blood and urine that those suspicions were confirmed.
Toxicologists now hope to develop and produce an effective antidote to the poison the cobra can, when reared up, fire into its victim’s eyes – a shot which can be accurate at up to five metres.
Highly secretive, spitting cobras can live near houses for years without being seen.
Royjan Taylor, director of the Bio-Ken Snake Farm, said: “We advise holiday makers to be most careful if one is seen in the wild.”
A link to the taxonomic paper. PDF-file.