The Kimberley

Scientists have discovered a new species of deadly snake in Australia – the Kimberley death adder – adding to the nation’s world-beating list of venomous snakes. The venomous orange-brown snake – a “sit-and-wait” predator – has diamond-shaped scales and remains camouflaged before ambushing passing creatures such as birds, frogs and lizards, or potentially humans. It inhabits the remote Kimberley region of north-west Australia.

The new species adds to the impressive list of poisonous creatures in Australia, which is believed to have 20 of the world’s 25 most deadly snakes, including the entire top ten.

Death adders – which are typically found in Australia, as well as in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea – are among the world’s most poisonous snakes.

A team led by Simon Maddock, from London’s Natural History Museum and University College London, examined the snake’s genetic and biological characteristics and confirmed it belonged to a distinct species, which was named acanthophis cryptamydros, or the Kimberley death adder. The snake is typically about 24 inches long.

“It’s not clear how many Kimberley death adders there are in the wild, but they’re probably quite rare,” Mr Maddock told

“Surprisingly, the snakes it most closely resembles aren’t its closest genetic relatives … And given the number of new species found in Kimberley recently – including frogs, lizards and many plants – it’s likely to be just one of many currently undescribed snakes in the west of Australia.”