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Animal Database
Spine-tailed Seasnake
Spine-tailed-sea-snake
Information
Range Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Guinea.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Order Squamata
Family Hydrophiidae
Genus Aipysurus
Species A. eydouxii
Conservation Status
LCSpecies
Least Concern

The Spine-tailed seasnake, (Aipysurus eydouxii), is a species of sea snake. This snake is unusual amongst sea snakes in that it feeds exclusively on fish eggs. Due to this ecological change, this species has lost its fangs and the venom glands are almost entirely atrophied. The scientific name commemorates the French naturalist Joseph Fortuné Théodore Eydoux.

Habitat[]

This species is found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Guinea inhabiting shallow bays and estuaries.

Diet[]

Only one other species of sea snake, Emydocephalus annulatus, shares the spine-tailed seasnake eggs only diet. The origin of the eggs only diet of spine-tailed seasnake results from a genetic mutation that impacted the snakes’ ability to hunt and feed. Due to a dinucleotide deletion in the 3FTx gene, toxicity of the snakes’ venom was greatly reduced. This decrease in toxicity negatively impacted the snake’s ability to hunt and capture fish for sustenance, leading to a subsequent change in diet from fish to fish eggs. The snake has also evolved several adaptations to their new feeding habits including strong throat musculature; consolidation of lip scales, reduction and loss of teeth, and greatly reduced body size.

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