A new type of snake discovered in Queensland might already be in danger of extinction due to mining activity.
The species of bandy-bandy snake was discovered by accident while a team of biologists from the University of Queensland and Naturalis Museum were investigating sea snakes at Weipa, on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula.
Associate Professor Bryan Fry said the snake was known for burrowing, so it was a surprise to see one on a concrete block at a dock where a ship was being loaded with bauxite.
The snake, which the scientists named the Cape York bandy-bandy, had slithered across from a pile of bauxite rubble waiting to be loaded.
‘‘On examination by my student, Chantelle Derez, the bandy-bandy turned out to be a new species, visually and genetically distinct from those found on the Australian east coast and parts of the interior,’’ Prof Fry said.
Prof Fry and his team later found two more of the same species nearby.
But he warned that the newly-discovered species could be in danger of being wiped out because its preferred habitat is bauxite rocks, which are a major source of aluminium for mining companies.
‘‘Bauxite mining is a major economic activity in the region, and it may be reshaping the environment to the detriment of native plants and animals,’’ Prof Fry said.