Sunday, January 29, 2012

Waltzing Matilda

Recently, a new species of snake was discovered in the Tanzanian rainforest. It belongs to a genus of viper whose hemotoxic1 venom has no known antidote. It is named after a young woman who has the honor of being one of the first people to take care of it. She happens to be seven.

Image by Tim Davenport

This is Matilda's Horned Viper (Atheris matildae). The Matilda in question is Matilda Davenport, daughter of Tim Davenport, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Tanzania program. She took an early interest in the specimens the research team brought in. They began to unofficially refer to the snake as "Matilda's Viper," and, before long, it was no longer unofficial. Though it seems that Matilda's younger sister now wants a species named after her too.

The location of Matilda's Horned Viper are being kept under wraps, as the researchers fear poachers may come after this exotic and brightly colored snake for the pet trade. They've started a breeding program to provide individuals to zoos to allow the public to get their first glimpse of this gorgeous snake.

On a more personal note, I now have an Etsy shop where you can order needle-felted versions of Endangered Ugly Things. I can even make things just for you; to order, click the "Request custom item" button on the side of the shop.

1Short definition of hemotoxin: it kills your blood.