Nov 21, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

How Pollutions Are Causing Urban Sea Snakes To Lose Their Stripes

Aug 13, 2017 07:16 PM EDT

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A recent study on sea snakes that live nearer to humans indicates, they are tending to lose their stripes. Researchers from the University of Sydney have first found some unusual difference in color patterns while studying on the turtle-headed sea snakes living on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific ocean.

Study finds, sea snakes living in pristine parts of the reef where human activities are not involved have more prominent black-and-white bands or blotches than the snakes of those places with regular human activity. In the journal of Current Biology, researchers explained that snakes of those places have a blackish body and less prominent stripes due to the exposure to pollution. The changing of color patches has become the part of their evolution that help them to adopt the environmental condition of their native place.

Lead researcher professor Rick Shine said,“The animals I study continue to astonish me. I think it's remarkable to find industrial melanism in organisms as different as moths and sea snakes”. He also explained that the deep blackish tones allow them to keep their body safe from toxic contaminants, including Zinc and Arsenic. With this discovery, sea snakes got placed on the list of species that show industrial melanism.

According to the report by MailOnline, urban sea snakes shed their skin more often. Researchers examined the trace elements of pollutants in the shed skins of sea snakes. The thing industrial melanism first caught the attention of scientists when they have found higher contamination of Zinc in the feather of pigeons in Paris.

It was also proved sea snakes with heavily pigmented with melanins have an advantage over their lighter relatives in polluted areas. This finding is the another example of the rapid evolutionary change in action. Professor Shine also added that the adaptation is a reminder of the effect humans can have on wildlife.

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