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Image: Omid Mozaffari, Wikimedia Commons

This snake with a spider-shaped tail is one of nature’s strangest creatures.

The spider-tailed horned viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides) is endemic to western Iran and was only recently rediscovered in 2006. While its head resembles other species of its kind, its tail serves as a remarkable attribute, boasting a bulb-like end with a drape of scales that bears an uncanny resemblance to a spider.

Image: Omid Mozaffari via Flickr

The species is characterized distinctly from other members of its species by a length of 16-17 exceedingly rough scales that stretch the distance between its horns.

The viper uses its bizarre tail as a lure, camouflaging itself against the rocks within its rugged natural environment. While remaining still otherwise, the snake waves around its tail lure to attract spider-eating birds. When they fall for the bait and come within striking range, the snake attacks and snatches them up. It is an extremely effective hunting mechanism.

Iranian spider tailed horned viper.

As you can see in the video, the viper moves its tail around, shaking and dragging it to mimic the movements of a live spider or centipede. While doing this, it keeps its tail very close to its head, so the bird is sure to come within close striking distance.

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