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World's smallest snake discovered

World's smallest snake discovered

作者:东浞睡  时间:2017-06-22 03:01:01  人气:

By Catherine Brahic (Image: B Hedges) (Image: B Hedges) You wouldn’t get many luxury handbags out of Leptotyphlops carlae. Barely the girth of a strand of spaghetti, it is the world’s smallest snake. Blair Hedges, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, discovered L. carlae on the island of Barbados. “I turned a small rock and found it hiding underneath.” Hedges has something of a knack for finding tiny critters. In 2001, he discovered the world’s smallest gecko. And in 1993, he was part of the team that stumbled across the world’s smallest frog. Hedges spends lots of time looking for unknown species of reptiles on islands, which he says are the ideal places to find very large and very small creatures, because they offer the opportunity for species to evolve into ecological niches. But he says it is a coincidence that he should have been involved in all three discoveries. “I have no expectation of ever finding another ‘smallest’ anything,” he says. L. carlae fits on a 25 cent US coin, meaning Sphaerodactylus ariasae, the gecko which fits on a 10 cent coin, still shares the title of the smallest reptile with another gecko of roughly the same size. The snake belongs to a family of thread snakes which look like earthworms and have lower jaws that operate like rakes to drag ant and termite larvae into their mouths. Hedges reckons his latest discovery could be as small as snakes get. The organs of small reptiles only leave enough room in their body cavities for them to lay single eggs. Any smaller, and the species would be unlikely to survive. Small though the snake is, it is not the world’s smallest vertebrate. That accolade goes to a Sumatran carp discovered in 2006, or arguably to a parasitic angler fish that is even smaller. Journal reference: Zootaxa (current issue) More on these topics: