Worlds largest and deadliest spitting cobra identified

December 8th, 2007 - 8:52 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 8 (ANI): Researchers have identified the worlds largest and most deadliest known species of spitting cobra.

Named as ‘Ashes spitting cobra’, or ‘large brown spitting cobra’, this reptile can reach lengths of more than 9 feet (274 centimeters) and is believed to deliver more venom with a single bite than any other cobra on the planet.

Known to exist in the dry lowlands of north and east Kenya, as well as in Uganda and Ethiopia, the snake was previously identified as a brown-colored variant of the black-necked spitting cobra.
But since researchers had long suspected that the snake merited its own species, new research, along with blood and tissue analysis, confirmed that it belongs to a new species of spitting cobra.
The fundamental differences between the two species (brown and black spitting cobra) also made researchers support the new theory.
For example, other variants of the black-necked spitting cobra fought harder when handled and took longer to settle down in captivity. Also, once these snakes were placed in cages, they became picky eaters.
But the Ashe’s cobra was less resistant to handling, generally less alert, less picky and were much bigger than the black necked spitting cobra.
The new finding might prove to be of significance for residents along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, who are at risk of being bitten by the new cobra.
Though the venom of the new species of the cobra is similar to the species it was previously grouped with, it can deliver about twice the amount of venom with a single bite.
This means that doctors treating bites from what turned out to be the brown spitting cobra, have to now increase the dose of antivenin to the victims. Thats because they were administering only half of the dose before the identification of the new species of the reptile.
According to researchers, the discovery of the species may also lead to new developments in antivenin, from studying the chemical makeup of the cobra’s venom. “The fact that this is a separate species raises a question of the efficacy of existing antivenins,” David Warrell, a herpetologist at the University of Oxford, told National Geographic News. (ANI)

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