New subspecies of sea snake is a floating ambush predator

Main report: Freaky New Sea Snake Has a Terrifying Hunting Strategy
(Gizmodo)
Other Reporting: Science Daily, Sci-News, Phys.org
Scientific Paper: Zookeys    (Plazi Treatment)
New Taxa: Hydrophis platurus xanthos
Species named for: From Greek xanthos, “yellow"
Categories: New Species | Reptiles
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A new subspecies of sea snake has been discovered off the coast of Costa Rica, and it’s got a unique hunting style that’s never been seen before in aquatic reptiles. Hanging from the surface like a coiled spring, it preys upon unsuspecting fish as they swim below.

The sea snake “opportunistically” feeds on small fish by hanging upside down in a coiled, or sinusoidal, position just below the water surface, and it only does so only at night. It’s just one of several differences that distinguish it from its closest living relative,  the  yellow-bellied sea snake, which lives in tropical waters throughout the world.  The researchers who conducted the analysis, Brooke Bessesen from the Phoenix Zoo and Gary Galbreath from Northwestern University, say the newly discovered snake may actually belong to an entirely new species of sea snake, but for now they’re content to designate it a subspecies.

Ambush posture of the new yellow sea snake subspecies Hydrophis platurus xanthos. It floats at the sea surface at night in a sinusoidal shape with its head pointing downwards and mouth agape. Credit: Brooke L. Bessesen Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-yellow-sea-snake-assumes-unusual.html#jCp

 

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