Recently, a lethal battle between two scaly titans ended in a draw, leaving behind a twisted, grisly scene.
One of the combatants, a king cobra, lay strangled. The second, a reticulated python, was also dead. Bitten behind its head by the cobra and suffering from the hooded snake’s deadly venom, the python attempted to defend its life by squeezing its attacker to death. It succeeded.
But neither survived.
“It’s crazy, but it’s something I could easily see happening…it’s a dangerous world out there, to eat other big snakes and things that could kill you,” says Coleman Sheehy of the Florida Museum of Natural History, who says the deadly clash likely occurred somewhere in Southeast Asia, where the two snake species overlap.
Both snakes are superlative among their slithering kin, and as these things sometimes do, a photo of the corpses ended up being posted on Facebook. There, it quickly attracted the attention of herpetologists and others marveling at the unusual sight (we’re all familiar with the ouroboros, a symbol depicting a serpent eating its own tail, but who’s ever seen a dead python balled up around a dead cobra?).