Watch This Viper Use Its Spider-Shaped Tail to Lure Its Lunch

It’s the circle of life.

Feb 18 2016, 6:29pm

All creatures on Earth are wonderful, unique products of evolution—but some, like the Spider-Tailed Horned Viper, make me want to curl into the fetal position all the same.

As its name suggests, this desert viper's tail is specially adapted to look exactly like a fat, juicy spider, with a bulbous end and creepy long scales that resemble spider legs. A native of Iran, the viper camouflages itself among the rocks and uses its tail as a lure to draw in unsuspecting insectivorous birds. The bird swoops in expecting a sumptuous meal, and receives a lethal attack instead.

Before this footage was taken, scientists had only theorized that the viper used its tail to lure birds, and finding the remains of birds in a viper's stomach bolstered that theory. But according to the video's voiceover, the hunting process was never captured on film prior to this. The viper has a very limited habitat, and the species may be threatened (the International Union for Conservation of Nature has not officially categorized it as such, citing deficient data).

The dramatic video voiceover says the viper's unique hunting method "indicates the best adaption and the most evolved tail structure in the world of snakes." After seeing it in action, I'd have to agree—it puts the rattlesnake to shame.