The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has added another rare specimen to its collection: a yellow-bellied sea snake, whose discovery last week was the first known report of the species in Southern California since 1983.
The 2-foot-long marine serpent was found slithering on the sand Friday by a surfer at Silver Strand Beach in Ventura County. It died shortly after being taken to a local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office.
On Saturday, Greg Pauly, herpetological curator at the museum, put on rubber gloves, recorded its vital statistics, then used laboratory scissors and forceps to snip tissue samples for DNA analysis. Then he placed the snake in a glass jar of formalin for preservation.
“It’s an insanely beautiful specimen,” he said, admiring the snake’s triangular head, its bright yellow underside and its flattened yellow tail with black spots.
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