Science: Queer Vipers

The island of Queimada Grande, off the coast of southeastern Brazil, is the kingdom of a snake called Bothrops insularis. Pit vipers related to rattlesnakes but much more poisonous, they swarm in the undergrowth, festoon the trees. They are found nowhere else in all the world, and their control of the mile-long island has not been contested since 1921, when the Brazilian government withdrew its lighthouse keepers after snakes had killed three of them and the wife of a fourth. They seem to live an ideal life, with plenty of sea birds to prey upon and no enemies. But all is...

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