West Thailand: Newly discovered black-and-white striped snake lurks in Khao Krachom

Photo courtesy of The Herald Sun

On the treacherous slopes of Khao Krachom in Thailand, a slithering menace lurked in the shadows, its brightly coloured stripes tempting fate.

Unbeknownst to the fearless adventurers, this 3-foot-long creature turned out to be a sinister surprise: a newly unearthed species, now named Bungarus sagittatus, the barbed arrow krait.

Scientists, daring the dangers of the elusive creature, uncovered the venomous snake during wildlife surveys in 2022, as revealed in a study published on January 30 in the Zoosystematics and Evolution journal. Despite the creature’s warning stripes, scientists identified it as a previously unknown species of krait, notorious for their highly venomous nature.

Captivating photos showcase the barbed arrow krait’s black bodies adorned with striking white bands. Its underbelly, described as immaculate white, reveals a row of triangular patches at the tip of its tail, leading researchers to christen it after the distinctive barbed arrow appearance.

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These enigmatic snakes, thriving in the mountainous forests between 2,700 and 3,400 feet, were mostly nocturnal hunters, with one particularly chilling observation: a barbed arrow krait devouring a lizard. Despite this revelation, the venom’s specifics remain a mystery, prompting researchers to emphasise the urgent need for in-depth studies to aid snakebite management and antivenom development.

Khao Krachom, a perilous haven for these creatures, lies in Ratchaburi province, a mere 90 miles southwest of bustling Bangkok, near the Thailand-Myanmar border. The identification of this venomous phantom relied on intricate details, from scale shape and pattern to DNA analysis, revealing an astounding 8% genetic divergence from its krait counterparts, reported The Herald Sun.

The team of researchers behind this discovery include Akrachai Aksornneam, Attapol Rujirawan, Siriporn Yodthong, Yik-Hei Sung, and Anchalee Aowphol.

In related news, a shocking “Snakes on a Plane” incident unfolded on a domestic flight when a slithery serpent was discovered wriggling over the head of a passenger. A TikTok user, @wannabnailssalon, uploaded a series of three clips detailing the event, causing a stir among netizens.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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