Australian wildlife is getting weird


Rangers in the Northern Territory found this lovely beast, a three-eyed snake, which is particularly interesting because the eye is so well formed, and it’s unlikely to be the result of a secondary fusion of two embryos. Something just triggered the formation of another eye near the midline of the cranium.

Unfortunately, it didn’t live long. That extra eye was an obstacle to feeding.

Also unfortunate is the speculation in the comments. This is not likely to be the result of a mutation — mutations don’t work like that. It’s also not likely to be a direct effect of a teratogen. Most likely is that there was an environmental insult of some sort to the early developing head that caused ectopic production of a morphogen signal. I doubt there will be a wave of similar defects appearing all over the snake population (although I confess it would be kind of cool if there were).

Least likely is the idea that this is a sign of the apocalypse, or that white walkers are going to march out of Timor or New Guinea to descend on Australia.

Comments

  1. says

    White Walkers would have to survive Australia’s Far North. Not only would that involve getting past sea snakes, box jellies, saltwater crocs, sharks and our fascist fucking Border Patrol, it’s pretty goddamn hot once you get out of the sea. And full of spiders. And more snakes. And well-armed yokels accompanied by pigdogs who could tear a phonebook in half.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I doubt there will be a wave of similar defects appearing all over the snake population (although I confess it would be kind of cool if there were).

    I wouldn’t call this cool — deformities due to pollution have been showing up in frog populations across the US, and a lot of ponds are quieter than they used to be (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070925130649.htm)

    What makes you so positive that the same thing won’t happen to snakes?

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Australia’s already suffered an invasion of white walkers from the North(ern hemisphere), and hasn’t recovered from it centuries later.

  4. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Hmm, duck-billed platypus or 3-eyed snake.

    Sorry gotta go with the platypus here for sheer weirdness.

  5. numerobis says

    Boycott Sonic the Hedgehog, suffer developmental problems. It’s been known for at least 25 years.

  6. woozy says

    “Something just triggered the formation of another eye near the midline of the cranium.”

    Can’t say for certain but by the angle of the snout and the second photo it it looks like the third eye is actually the snake’s rightmost eye near the jawline.

  7. blf says

    Oh that’s where it went. The mildly deranged penguin would like to apologise to the rangers in ozland. She was, you see, mixing a new cocktail, a variant of the famous Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, which went BOOM! (as expected, but not as LOUD as she’d intended). However, the worm inside went hypersonic and was last seen on a ballistic trajectory, accompanied by the Yeti. Neither they nor the straw made orbit, albeit most of the Habanero chillis probably did. This so-called three-eyed snake is clearly the Yeti, albeit after having most of its fur singed away, possibly by reentry but more likely from sampling the still-unnamed cocktail (which would also explain the missing eye (Yetis have four visible eyes)) — albeit once she prefects the recipe, is thinking of calling it Ye Tri Yeti Ayes.

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