December 7, 2007—Africa's Naja ashei snake (pictured)
is not only the world's newest snake species—it's also the largest spitting cobra, scientists with the conservation
nonprofit WildlifeDirect announced today.
Blood and tissue samples helped confirm what some snake experts have long believed:
that these massive, aggressive, extremely venomous snakes—which can grow to more than 9 feet (274 centimeters) long—form
a separate species.
Commonly known as Ashe's spitting cobra, the new species is named after one such expert:
the late James Ashe, the founder of the Bio-Ken Snake Farm research center in Watamu, Kenya. Ashe believed that this coastal snake was different from any other.
Naja ashei takes
its place among the 30 or so known cobra species, including the king cobra, which is the world's largest venomous snake