Friday 9 August 2013

Spider-tailed Horned Viper

Image: Omid Mozaffari
Pseudocerastes urarachnoides
A snake with a spider for a tail? Wasn't ONE pair of venomous fangs enough?

There was a time, long ago, when pretty much everyone had a snake for a tail.

There was the evil Greek Sphinx, who was part woman, part lion, with eagle wings and a snake for a tail.
Medusa, with her terrible mass of snakes for hair and one, massive snake for legs.
Chimera, which was a lion with a goat sticking out of its back. And a snake for a tail. Probably the snake would bite you, the lion maul you and the goat chew on your hair. The triune of evil.

You might notice that they're all Greek. Clearly Greece was the place to see and be seen for the evil/misunderstood monster community, and one must never be spotted without one's snake for a tail.

But what's this?

Video: rattlegr

A spider has come late to the party and finally acquired a snake for a tail! So last season!

This is the creepy-crawly tail of a peculiar snake found only in rocky, mountainous parts of western Iran. It was only described in 2006, almost 40 years after it was first collected. At that time it was thought to be another species blighted by some terrible disease. I don't think a snake with a disease for a tail works so well.

Another specimen was discovered in 2001, bearing the same terrible affliction, at which point they started thinking maybe this is something way cooler than a disease.

Turns out the tail mimics something tasty and delicious, like a Camel Spider or a big Centipede. Tasty and delicious if you're a bird, I mean. And birds happen to be tasty and delicious if you're a Spider-tailed Horned Viper. So the bird gets bitten, envenomed and eaten. Tables well and truly turned.

What's the world coming to when you can't even mistrust a huge centipede without getting clever girled by a snake?


Unknown said...

his tail looks like an insect ?

Joseph JG said...

Yup! At least birds think so. Pretty weird, but it seems to work!

TexWisGirl said...

that is just FREAKY! and wrong!

Joseph JG said...

So wrong it's right! But right in a wrong way.

BK said...

Now it has been filmed hunting. It's awesome.

Joseph JG said...

I had to track that down and wow, fantastic video!