Scientists are astonished to find a viper eaten alive from the inside out by his prey, a centipede.
While scientists were on a field study in Macedonia, they came upon the carcass of a nose-horned viper–not an unusual sight in the region they were in. This viper, however, was unusual. That is because the head of a centipede was sticking out of the snake’s abdomen, Live Science reported. The researchers were astonished.
After conducting a postmortem on the viper, Vipera ammodytes, the researchers concluded that the centipede likely eviscerated the predator from the inside out.
“All of us were astonished, as nobody has ever seen something like this,” said Ljiljana Tomovic, a herpetologist at the University of Belgrade, in an email to Live Science. A report of the rare never-before-seen event was published in the journal Ecologica Montenegrian, with the title: ‘Two fangs good, a hundred legs better; juvenile viper devoured by an adult centipede it had ingested.’
The scientists took a photo of the centipede, Scolopendra cingulate, busting out of the young female snake’s abdomen. Measurements of the two creatures side by side show that the centipede is almost as long as the viper.
In May of last year, Tomovic and his colleagues were tagging reptiles on Macedonia’s Golem Grad, a 44-acre (18 hectars) island in Lake Prespa, a place that is home to thousands of tortoises, tens of thousands of dice snakes, and hundreds of vipers, Live Science said.
One researcher, Dragan Arsovki, happened to turn over a stone and saw the remnants of the unfortunate viper, Tomovic said. She also said that the centipede was actually heavier–114 percent heavier–than the snake.
Upon dissecting the viper, the scientists found that its visceral organs were missing and wrote that “the entire volume of its body was occupied by the centipede.’
“Therefore, we cannot dismiss the possibility that the snake swallowed the centipede alive, and that, paradoxically, the prey has eaten its way through the snake, almost reaching its freedom,” the authors wrote.