Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species | Scientific Reports
This is amazing news. Natrix natrix -previously thought to be the only grass snake in the UK – has been found to be genetically distinct from what was previously thought to be a variation rather than separate species, the newly named Natrix venaticus. Studies sampled mtDNA from existing skins and specimens and found clear genetic differences between the two, confirming Natrix venaticus as a separate and distinct species. No living snakes were harmed for the study either, which is always good news.
“We knew of this group-digging behaviour, called social facilitation, for a long time, but the reasons for teamwork were unclear. Possible explanations included speeding up nest escape or helping the turtles emerge together to swamp awaiting predators on the beach.
But Mohd Uzair Rusli, a biologist at the University of Malaysia Terengganu in Kuala Terengganu wondered if it could also help individual hatchlings cut down on energy use while trying to leave their nest. This is a major undertaking for the tiny hatchlings, taking several days, with the only source of energy being the yolk that remains when they hatch.”
Behavioural rather than adaptation; fascinating example of a mutualistic relationship.
“Two Russian scientists and a pair of Czech reptile enthusiasts have been jailed for trying to export hundreds of native animals from Western Australia, including some stuffed in books and cigarette packs.”