Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Shape-Shifters

Tiger snakes on Chappell Island

Tiger snakes on Chappell Island have rapidly evolved large heads, enabling them to swallow whole mutton bird chicks. Photo © Ben Twist, used with permission.

By Michael Lee & Kate Sanders

Genetic analyses reveal that Australia’s land and sea snakes have rapidly evolved different body shapes and sizes to suit the local prey available, from fat muttonbird chicks to eels hiding in narrow crevices.

Michael Lee is a senior research scientist at the South Australian Museum and University of Adelaide. Kate Sanders is an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Adelaide.

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