Australia, one of my favorite places, is full of rugged, different and poisonous animals. I could not have imagined that I would make a great discovery on those Australian trips.
It was a wonderful shooting day. My team and I were able to catch fantastic sea snakes and the mood was right. Our boat was docked again in the port of Weipa, a mining town in northeastern Australia. Tired but satisfied, I walked from the jetty towards my jeep. Time to relax, I thought.
Until I see something crawling on my feet. A small black-and-white-ringed snake, less than four feet long and about the size of a large pencil, was entangled. A Pandi Pandi; I immediately recognized the bar shape, the shiny skin, and the tiny eyes. The black and white alarm system was similar to the sea snakes we photographed.
Pandi Pandis, as their skin texture suggests, are venomous, but unlike sea snakes, they are not dangerous to humans. Their venom is weak and their mouths are so small that they cannot bite us. Pandi Pandis are very special hunters who chase only worm snakes. These cobra-like snakes dig underground tunnels.
What was this animal doing here, on the concrete bed of the sea? I looked up and down the report. Large pile of bauxite ruins nearby, ready to be sent. There, after escaping from excavations at the bauxite mine site, the snake often crawled.
One more thing caught my attention. At that time, there were five types of Pandits known to science, but this did not seem to be very similar. This is not surprising, since there can be many differences within a species. But through my experience with snakes, I had a strong suspicion that more was going on here.
I signaled to fellow Australian biologists, the rest is history. After a few years of morphological and genetic research and some new insights into the same kind of pandy-pandy, the suspicion was confirmed: the snake crawling on the scaffolding is new to science!
In fact, once he was discovered, he was already threatened. This destroys their habitat due to their low visibility, small range and local mining activities. Now that we know that there are pandy-pandies here too, we hope we can protect them. After many years of research it was a dream to be able to describe a new species.
Of course I did not know he was on the jetty that day. I went for a beer with guys on the day of the successful shoot.
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