Scientists working in the sand dunes and woodland surrounding Licata in southern Sicily have rediscovered the Javelin Sand Boa, a snake that had not been officially recorded in Italy for around 80 years.

The  Javelin Sand Boa.

The Javelin Sand Boa. Image by The Reptilarium / CC BY-SA 2.0

The snake is thought to have been brought to Sicily by the ancient Greeks, who used it as a weapon during sea battles. The Greeks would throw the 50cm-long snakes into their enemies’ ships to spark confusion and fear before they attacked. The area where the sand boas have been found is close to the locations of two ancient battles. Read more: