Laticauda or sea kraits are a genus of venomous elapid snakes from the subfamily Hydrophiinae. They are semiaquatic: they retain the wide ventral scales typical of terrestrial snakes for moving on land but also have paddle-shaped tails for swimming. Sea kraits are often confused with another group of aquatic reptiles: sea snakes. However, unlike the fully aquatic ovoviviparous sea snakes, sea kraits are oviparous and must come to land to digest prey and lay eggs. They also have independent evolutionary origins into aquatic habitats, with sea kraits diverging earlier from other Australasian elapids. Thus, sea kraits and sea snakes are an example of convergent evolution into aquatic habitats within Hydrophiinae snakes.
eight, see text
Sea kraits are semiaquatic and so have morphological adaptations to both land and sea. Laticauda species show traits intermediate between those of sea snakes and terrestrial elapids. They have a vertically flattened and paddle-shaped tail (similar to sea snakes) and laterally positioned nostrils and broad, laterally expanded ventral scales (similar terrestrial elapids). Their body has a striped pattern, nasal scales are separated by inter-nasals scales, and the maxillary bone extends forwards beyond the palatine bone. Members of Laticauda can grow to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) long.
Laticauda species are found throughout the south and southeast Asian islands spreading from India in the west, north as far as Japan, and southeast to Fiji. They are mostly found in coastal waters. They live under coral reefs.
Laticauda species are often active at night, which is when they prefer to hunt. Though they possess highly toxic venom, Laticauda snakes are usually shy and reclusive, and in New Caledonia, where they are called tricot rayé ("stripey sweater"), children play with them. Bites are extremely rare, but must be treated immediately. Black-banded sea kraits, numbering in the hundreds, form hunting alliances with yellow goatfish and bluefin trevally, flushing potential prey from narrow crannies in a reef the same way some moray eels do. Sea kraits are capable of diving up to 80 meters in a single hunting trip. Sea kraits have a remarkable ability to climb up vertical rocks of their coastal limestone habitats.
Laticauda females are oviparous, and they return to land to mate and lay eggs. Several males will form a mating ball around the female, twitching their bodies in what is termed "caudocephalic waves". Though these animals can occur in high densities in suitable locations, nests of eggs are very rarely encountered, suggesting specific nesting conditions need to be met.
Species and taxonomyEdit
- Laticauda colubrina (Schneider, 1799) – yellow-lipped sea krait
- Laticauda crockeri Slevin, 1934 – Crocker's sea snake
- Laticauda frontalis (De Vis, 1905)
- Laticauda guineai Heatwole, Busack & Cogger, 2005 – Guinea's sea krait
- Laticauda laticaudata (Linnaeus, 1758) – blue-lipped sea krait
- Laticauda saintgironsi Cogger & Heatwole, 2006 – New Caledonian sea krait
- Laticauda schistorhynchus (Günther, 1874) – katuali or Niue sea krait
- Laticauda semifasciata (Reinwardt in Schlegel, 1837) – black-banded sea krait
- 1. Wilson, 2. Swan, 1. Stephen K, 2. Gerry (2013). A complete guide to reptiles of Australia. Chatswood, NSW: New Holland Publishers. p. 564.
- Cogger, Hal (2000). Reptiles and amphibians of Australia. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland. p. 722.
- Pyron, R. Alexander; Burbrink, Frank T.; Colli, Guarino R.; de Oca, Adrian Nieto Montes; Vitt, Laurie J.; Kuczynski, Caitlin A.; Wiens, John J. (2011-02-01). "The phylogeny of advanced snakes (Colubroidea), with discovery of a new subfamily and comparison of support methods for likelihood trees". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 58 (2): 329–342. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.11.006. ISSN 1095-9513. PMID 21074626.
- KEOGH, J. SCOTT (1998-02-01). "Molecular phylogeny of elapid snakes and a consideration of their biogeographic history". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 63 (2): 177–203. doi:10.1006/bijl.1997.0178.
- Shine, R.; Shetty, S. (2001-03-01). "Moving in two worlds: aquatic and terrestrial locomotion in sea snakes (Laticauda colubrina, Laticaudidae)". Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 14 (2): 338–346. doi:10.1046/j.1420-9101.2001.00265.x. ISSN 1420-9101.
- Brischoux, François; Kato, Akiko; Ropert-Coudert, Yan; Shine, Richard (2010-10-30). "Swimming speed variation in amphibious seasnakes (Laticaudinae): A search for underlying mechanisms". Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 394 (1–2): 116–122. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2010.08.001.
- Activity Patterns of Yellow-Lipped Sea Kraits (Laticauda colubrina) on a Fijian Island.
- Kindersley, Dorling. (2005) . Animal. New York City: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
- "La Lettre de la Délégation n°202". Notes du Centre d'études biologiques de Chizé (UPR1934 CNRS) (CNRS DR15) (in French). 202. 2016-03-29. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
- Motani, Ryosuke (19 May 2009). "The Evolution of Marine Reptiles". Evo Edu Outreach. 2: 224–235. doi:10.1007/s12052-009-0139-y.
- Heatwole H, Busack S, Cogger H. (2005). Geographic variation in sea kraits of the Laticauda colubrina complex (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae: Laticaudini). Herpetological Monographs 19: 1-136.
- Cogger HG, Heatwole HF. (2006). Laticauda frontalis (de Vis, 1905) and Laticauda saintgironsi n.sp. from Vanuato and New Caledonia (Serpentes: Elapidae: Laticaudinae) – a new lineage of sea kraits? Records of the Australian Museum 58: 245-256.
- Kharin VE, Czeblukov VP. (2006). A new revision of the sea kraits of family Laticaudidae Cope, 1879 (Serpentes: Colubroidea). Russian Journal of Herpetology 13: 227-241.
- "Sea snake parasites – 1". Tropical Research and Conservation Centre. 8 March 2011. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
- Laurenti JN. 1768. Specimen medicum, exhibens synopsin reptilium emendatam cum experimentis circa venena et antidota reptilium austriacorum. Vienna: "Joan. Thom. Nob. de Trattnern". 214 pp. + Plates I-V. (Laticauda, new genus, p. 109). (in Latin).
- Sea krait slithering on coastal rocks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAe69AlIvR4