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Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides)

…a species of Persian horned viper collected in western Iran in 2006. Like its common name suggests this unique viper has an odd wind scorpion shaped growth at the tip of its tail. Originally it was thought to be a Persian Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes persicus) with a odd tumor, but it was later reveled that a whole population had these growths and they were named a new species. 

The growth is actually used as a lure and experiments have shown that birds who peck at it were lead to the vipers head and eaten. So far it has only been observed preying on birds but it is though to prey on other predators of wind scorpions as well.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Reptilia-Squamata-Serpentes-Viperidae-Viperinae-Pseudocerastes-P.urarachnoides

Images: Omid Mozaffari and Fathina et al.

So a new species of snake (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) was recently discovered in southern Iran.

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Its common name is the spider-tailed horned viper because its tail is literally a fucking spider. This salty motherfucker has a spider (well, a VERY convincing spider-shaped lure) for a tail. I’d try to get on its level but I don’t know if that’s even possible. 

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Spider snake. Snake spider. Nature isn’t even in the neighborhood of fucking around. 

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The Spider-tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) has a very unusual tail: the tip is modified into an elaborate structure that resembles arachnids known as solifugids. (Image source.)

This viper uses its tail as a lure, mimicking the appearance and movement of a solifugid — then ambushing any small animals that fall for the illusion of a free meal.

Although a single specimen was originally collected from western Iran in 1968, it was so strange that it was considered to simply be a deformed individual of an already known species of viper. It wasn’t until the 2000s that further examples of this snake were found, all with the same odd tail morphology, and it was finally recognized as its own unique species.

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