Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

11 Really Weird Snakes

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Gliding through treetops, dining on crawdads, and hunting with false “tentacles” aren’t activities we normally associate with snakes. But serpents are a far more diverse lot than they’re generally given credit for. Here are 11 of the oddest.

1. Malagasy Leaf-nosed snake (Langaha madagascariensis)

These strange-looking Madagascarian reptiles get their name from the distinctive scaly structures on their snouts. In females, these are jagged and leaf-shaped while those of males are long and tapered. The exact function of these appendages remains a mystery. 

2. Queen Snake (Regina septemvittata)

As the incomparable Sir David Attenborough explains in this clip, the North American queen snake dines exclusively on recently-moulted crayfish: a highly-specialized diet which renders them particularly vulnerable to water pollution.

3. Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)

Should you ever happen to frighten a wild hognose, you’re in for a show! These toad-eating thespians will dramatically writhe on their backs before going completely limp and playing dead … often going so far as to let their tongues dangle pathetically from their gaping maws.

4. Tentacled Snake (Erpeton tentaculatum)

The knobby appendages which give the aquatic predator its name are actually motion detectors which aid in the capture of its fishy prey, as Scientific American explains in the clip above.

5. Flying Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi)

Transforming themselves into living parachutes, these Asian gliders flatten their bodies before leaping from tree limbs when startled, showing off some majestic mid-air slithering in the process.

6. Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

These infamous snakes (along with a few other species) are of academic significance because of a curious reproductive strategy used by some females: their reproductive system enables them to reproduce without mating by way of an amazing phenomenon called “parthenogenesis." Remarkably, some will choose to do so even when males are present.

7. Worm Snake (Carphophis amoenus)

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A tiny pinkish North American burrower, the primitive worm snake is almost never seen on the surface, preferring to hunt subterranean earthworms to which it bears an uncanny first-glance resemblance.

8. Elephant Trunk Snake (Acrochordus javanicus)

Monster Fish Keepers

Wrinkled and baggy, the loose skin of this aptly-named river-dweller actually helps it capture slippery fish: the sharp scales it contains dig into the victim, preventing escape.

9. Hairy Bush Viper (Atheris hispida)

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No reptile actually grows hair, but this African viper’s frayed scales certainly give it a manic appearance.

10. Spider-Tailed Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides)

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As its common name suggests, the spider-tailed viper has evolved a series of thin, wispy scales on its tail which, when wiggled, look enticingly spider-like to its arachnid-guzzling prey:

11. Black-Banded Sea Krait (Laticauda semifasciata)

Although one of the world’s most venomous snakes, these semiaquatic creatures have a generally passive demeanor (even when handled), preferring to reserve their poison for the various fish they dine upon.

From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]


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