The king cobra is likely a ‘royal family’ of four species
The discovery could lead to a more effective antivenom to treat snakebites throughout East and South Asia.
Herpetologists have long wondered how the king cobra, which slithers across massive Asian landscapes separated by seemingly impenetrable divides such as the Himalaya could be a single species. It also puzzled them that the world’s longest venomous snake, which can reach 18 feet, often has a different appearance or behavior depending on where it lives.
Now, it all makes sense: The king cobra is in fact a “royal family” of four separate species, new research suggests.
Last August, P. Gowri Shankar, a biologist and king cobra expert at the Kālinga Foundation, a conservation nonprofit in Shivamogga, India, and his colleagues reported four genetically unique lineages of king cobra.