Wildlife authorities have shared photos of a three-eyed snake that was found on a highway in northern Australia.
The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service described the discovery, which was widely shared online, as “peculiar”. Nicknamed Monty Python, the baby carpet python died just weeks after it was found in March.
Experts said the snake’s third eye, on top of its head, appeared to be a natural mutation. Rangers discovered it near the town of Humpty Doo, 40km (25 miles) south-east of Darwin. The 40cm-long (15 inch) reptile had been struggling to eat due to its deformity, officials told the BBC.
The wildlife service said X-ray scans had showed that the snake did not have two heads formed together. “Rather it appeared to be one skull with an additional eye socket and three functioning eyes,” it said on Facebook.
Snake expert Prof Bryan Fry said mutations were a natural part of evolution.
“Every baby has a mutation of some sort – this one is just particularly coarse and misshapen,” said Prof Fry, from the University of Queensland.
“I haven’t seen a three-eyed snake before, but we have a two-headed carpet python in our lab – it’s just a different kind of mutation like what we see with Siamese twins.”
He suggested that the snake’s third eye may have been “the last little bit of a twin that’s been absorbed”.