If you like evolution and natural history, you should already be reading Ed Yong’s terrific site Not Exactly Rocket Science at National Geographic. In his short post “This snake has a tail that looks like a spider,” he describes a remarkable and newly found type of mimicry.
The snake is, appropriately, the spider-tailed viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides), first described formally only 7 years ago from Iran. It was known since the sixties, but the one specimen’s tail was dismissed as a tumor or deformity. We now know from other specimens that this is indeed a species-specific trait. As Yong notes:
The tail is bizarre. If you saw a close-up photo of it, you’d struggle to believe that there was a snake at the other end. There’s a large orange or grey bulb at the tip, and the scales just before that are bizarrely long and thin…
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