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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 24 January, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Romulus’ Krait: New Species of Snake

Romulus’ Krait: New Species of Snake

  • A study of snakes in southern and western India has identified a new species of snake. Named the Romulus’ krait (Bungarus romulusi) after the ‘snake man of India’, Romulus Whittaker, the species has so far remained undetected because of its similarity in appearance to the common krait (B. caeruleus) and only a careful genetic analysis revealed that the two were distinct species.
  • The study also showed that some kraits in Maharashtra that were misidentified as the Wall’s Sind krait were actually the same as the Sind krait which is also found in parts of Pakistan and Rajasthan and has been identified as the snake with the most potent venom in India.
  • “The Romulus’ krait and common krait are so hard to distinguish that even herpetologists with years of experience couldn’t tell that it could be a distinct species through casual observation. Only after the genetic examination, we were surprised to discover a new species,” he adds.
  • The venom of the Sind krait was 12–13 times as potent as that of the common krait, whereas the venom of the Romulus’ krait was about six times as potent.
  • When the Indian antivenoms were tested for their ability to neutralise the venoms of these cryptic kraits, they were found to be ineffective.
  • This is because these antivenoms are made to protect against the bites of the ‘big four’ Indian snakes – the spectacled cobra (Naja naja), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) and saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus).

Source: TH


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