Science

This incredible mutant snake will one day rule us all (and also save our lives)

I for one, welcome our new snake overlords. Humans have had a pretty good run. 200,000 years or so at the top of the food chain – we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve had our ups, we’ve had our downs.

But now it’s time to accept our fate and humbly welcome our new snake masters.

long-glanded-blue-coral-snake

THIS IS THE END. (Image: Tom Charlton)

Oh this? This snake here is the long glanded blue coral snake, and it’s been described by scientists as “the killer of killers”.

It has the largest venom glands of any snake in the entire world, a scorpion’s sting and to top it off, literally eats king cobras for snacks.

The long-glanded blue coral lives in south-east Asia and is known for its unique (read: terrifying) venom that works so quickly that it’s been known to kill humans within five minutes.

The venom has been of particular interest to scientists, not just because of the snake’s uniquely long glands, but because it causes its victims to spasm – a trait that no other snake venom possesses.

“On the scale of weird, this one goes to 11,” Queensland University venomologist Bryan Fry said. “It’s a freaky snake.”

Along with a team of international researchers, Dr Fry has been the first to identify six unique peptides that allow the snake to switch on all of its prey’s nerves at once.

While this may seem like a bone-chilling prospect, it’s actually great news for humans because it could lead to groundbreaking discoveries in pain relief.

“It’s also the first vertebrate to do this via sodium channels,” Dr Fry said.

“So from a drug development perspective, this is interesting as this animal is evolutionarily-speaking closer to us than a scorpion. Which means it might be more amenable to us.”

And to finish off, here is a video of a man with a death wish:

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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