Posted by: paulgarner | June 15, 2009

Snakes alive!

The European grass snake showing its distinctive collar. Photo courtesy wolf 359, www.flickr.com.

The European grass snake showing its distinctive collar. Photo courtesy wolf 359, http://www.flickr.com.

The European grass snake (Natrix natrix) is Britain’s largest terrestrial reptile and can grow to over a metre in length. It is sometimes referred to as the ringed snake because of the distinctive black and yellow collar around its neck. Individuals are extremely wary and move fast, so it’s difficult to see them, even though they range throughout England and Wales.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see one yesterday basking in the sunshine alongside a fence at the entrance to our close. My wife and I were walking to church, chatting to one another, when suddenly my wife said, “Oh, look at that!” Peering in the direction in which she was pointing I saw the snake, which by now was slithering its way rapidly along the fence in search of cover, occasionally rearing its head upwards out of the uncut grass, the markings clearly revealing its identity.

It was a lovely moment of contact with one of the less-often-seen members of our native wildlife. I’ve never seen a grass snake in the wild before and I didn’t expect to see one virtually in our backyard.

There’s more about the European grass snake on the Arkive website, including some videos and species information. From a creationist perspective and for those interested in the baraminology of snakes, this article by Tom Hennigan (2005) is valuable background reading. Drawing on the published literature, Tom shows that many snake species within the families Boidae, Colubridae and Viperidae have the ability to hybridize despite being widely separated geographically, and he uses the hybridization data to tentatively identify several monobaramins.

Incidentally, the BCM website is now back up following its unscheduled downtime (although there are still a few images to be restored). And don’t forget the earlier post about the origin of mudstones. There’s a paradigm shift going on in that area of geology and it’s worth knowing about.

Reference

Hennigan T. 2005. An initial investigation into the baraminology of snakes: order — Squamata, suborder Serpentes. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 42:153-160.

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