Fossil animal (Mososaurs)
Future animal (Vergrandis Crur Cobra)

King Cobra




Introduction
The King Cobra is the world’s longest poisonous snake which reaches a length up to 5.6m (18.5 ft) and weighs around 20kg, it is classified as a snake but has does not have any other snakes in the same category as Elapidae.The scientific name of the King Cobra is known as the Ophiophagus O. Hannah. Ophiophagus means snake-eater in New Latin and Hannah is known to come from Greek mythology which relates to wood. King Cobras are the only snakes in the world that build nests for their heir. The skin of the cobra is olive-green and black and is shiny and feels smooth. Its lifespan is about 20 years and mates in January, which lay up to 20-50 eggs. Similar adaptations and habitats can be found from the Boa Constrictor, and the Common Eel has a similar body proportion and similar movement as the King Cobra.


Scientific Classificationexternal image king_cobra.JPG
Kingdom
Animalia
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpents
Family
Elapidae
Genus
Ophiophagus
Species
O. hannah



Labelled Diagram

Source - http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/reptiles/snakes/Kingcobra.shtml
Source - http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/reptiles/snakes/Kingcobra.shtml



Habitat
Distribution of King Cobra Source - http://www.theanimalfiles.com/reptiles/snakes/cobra_king.html
Distribution of King Cobra Source - http://www.theanimalfiles.com/reptiles/snakes/cobra_king.html

King Cobras are distributed throughout South-East-Asian countries including India, Southern China, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.King Cobras are mainly found deep in the nature in dense forest areas (savannas) without any human settlements. They also are found nearby mangrove swamps, streams and rivers as they are capable of swimming comfortably in shallow water. As they are enthusiastic tree climbers they stay nearby thick masses of trees and bamboo thickets. King Cobras are mostly distributed in mountainous regions in India which reach up to an altitude of 6500 feet above sea level.King Cobras usually stay alone and only get together when they mate and male and female snakes usually stay together within a time span of one year.

Indian Forest (surrounding of King Cobra - Source - http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/data/504/medium/r_Forest_stream_1.JPG
Indian Forest (surrounding of King Cobra - Source - http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/data/504/medium/r_Forest_stream_1.JPG

Food
King Cobra eating snake - Source - http://media.photobucket.com/image/king%20cobra%20eating/duffjoshua/Reptiles/48KingCobraEatingSnake.jpg
King Cobra eating snake - Source - http://media.photobucket.com/image/king%20cobra%20eating/duffjoshua/Reptiles/48KingCobraEatingSnake.jpg

King Cobras mostly feed on reptiles and snakes unlike typical snakes which eat rodents. They usually hunt and eat non-venomous snakes such as pythons, but at times they feed on smaller King Cobras, Indian Cobras Kraits and lizards. King Cobras hunt food by flicking their forked tongue to smell the air, when they find the prey they rear up a third of their body length and then strike at their prey. When the prey is caught, the muscles contract to create venom from the glands to their fangs and sink into their prey. The prey is wholly swallowed and depending on the prey the King Cobra may not eat for another several weeks. The venom, neurotoxin from King Cobras can cause swelling, hypertension, nausea, drowsiness, abdominal pain, paralyzing limbs, unconsciousness and finally death.

Enemies
Mongoose - Source - http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2009/kreul_kyle/images/yellow-mongoose--cynictis-penicillata.jpg
Mongoose - Source - http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2009/kreul_kyle/images/yellow-mongoose--cynictis-penicillata.jpg

Young King Cobras are more vulnerable to enemies and are hunted down by mongoose, giant centipedes, civets, and large army ants. Eggs are often trampled over by wild boars and are sometimes eaten by mongoose. The above enemies are mostly enemies in a natural terrain, but for most adult and young King Cobras, humans are the real threat as their forest areas are cut down to build towns which disrupt the wildlife of King Cobras usual environment of being surrounded by trees and rich shrouds. King Cobras in most cases for humans do not usually fight against enemies unless they are hunting prey or guarding a nest. King Cobra fatalities are usually only within 5 cases a year and the IUCN red list shows that they have the least concern of distinction. Another scaling system CITES shows that they are of mild concern of distinction probably because of human commercial purposes as meat, bile and skin are used in ancient Chinese medical treatment and because the venom is used to treat tuberculosis, arthritic pain and cholera.



Breeding
Mating King Cobra - Source - http://media.photobucket.com/image/king%20cobra%20breeding/rubida/Capes.jpg
Mating King Cobra - Source - http://media.photobucket.com/image/king%20cobra%20breeding/rubida/Capes.jpg

Sexual maturity of King Cobras start from ages five to six. The mating season is within January and has been proven with the increase of skin that is shed from King Cobras. Females are found easier by males through a shedding process which releases pheromones to help males find females to mate with. When the male finds the female the male will twist its body around the female as above and stay in the same position for several hours. The females eggs become fertilized and gravid (pregnant for snakes). the female can store the males sperm inside to make herself pregnant several times. When two months after mating has passed the female lays around 20-50 eggs. Within a two month period the eggs are laid in a nest, no other snake lays their eggs in nest and it is predicted that they have a higher intelligence compared to other snakes. The eggs then hatch after 60-70 days of incubation period. Females leave them when they are young, possibly because they may be tempted to eat them. Young King Cobras have yellow bands across their black/olive colored skin. They are usually 14 inches (35cm) long and a half inch (1.25cm) wide. After 10 days of age the juveniles will have venom as deadly as adults and will start to hunt on their own.



Behavioral Adaptations

1>Venom
King Cobras venom is produced in the salivary glands which is above the eyes. The venom that is created is mainly made up of proteins and polypeptides. Venom sinks down through the half inch (8-10mm) sized fangs and into the wound bitten by the Cobra. King Cobras venom is not as strong as some other venomous snakes, but they a capable of inserting more venom into a wound as they have a larger body. It is possible of a King Cobra to kill an adult Asian Elephant within three hours if it bites the elephant on a vulnerable spot (example - trunk). Black Mambas has a similar amount of venom as the King Cobra but the King Cobra is five times more affective as it has a volume five times more than a Black Mamba.The King Cobras venom is neurotoxin which affects the central nervous system with intense and fast reacting pain. Symptoms after getting bitten are blurred vision, vertigo, drowsiness and paralysis. The victims cardiovascular system fails in about one to two minutes after getting bitten with venom, which leads to the victim into a coma. After the respiratory systems fails the victim will end up dead. There are two types of antidotes made in Thailand and India but both products are not widely available and are not easy to get. King Cobras venom is useful as it helps by making it easier to kill prey and swallowing it easier so that the prey will not struggle and they will just have a fast direct death making it easy to eat. The adaptation of King Cobras having venom could have been risen as they might have been killed by other venomous snakes which put the King Cobra in danger if it did not have venom, also it would be more convenient to kill prey in short distances as they are amongst the three snakes in the world which can spray venom.
Spitting Venom - Source - http://www.africanreptiles-venom.co.za/assets/images/MOZAMBIQUE_SPITTING_COBRA.jpg
Spitting Venom - Source - http://www.africanreptiles-venom.co.za/assets/images/MOZAMBIQUE_SPITTING_COBRA.jpg


2>Hunting
King Cobras use their forked shaped tongue to smell their surrounding through the chemical reaction, the fork tongues then send the scent particles to the Jacobson organ (sensory receptor) located above its mouth. When a scent for prey is found the King Cobra will continuously flick its tongue to find which direction its prey is moving and which direction it is from where the snake is. The fork tongue helps to sense surroundings better with intense eyes, The King Cobra senses vibrations when tracking with prey and its intelligence helps it to catch prey within 100m (King Cobras can detect prey from 100m away). When the venom has been inserted into the victim it starts to eat is whole prey from the head where is bitten all the way up to its tail leaving the whole prey inside the King Cobra. King Cobras, like other snakes do not have jaws in a fixed position, instead its joints are made with pliable ligaments making the lower half of the jaw to eat things easier. Also the King Cobra is similar to other snakes as it swallows the whole prey and does not chew in between. The lower half expansion of the jaw makes it easier for it to swallow prey that may be bigger than its own head size. Most herpetologists classify the King Cobra as a diurnal species as it hunts at all times but is rarely seen hunting at nighttime.Hunting is made very easy for the King Cobra as they have many effective ways of finding prey using different senses as explained above. They may have been evolved to be use many different senses so that if they have an injury in one spot such as their eye, they would still have an alternative sense to find prey.



Structural Adaptations

1>Fangs
The fangs of King Cobras are very short and only go from 1.5mm to 2.0mm in size. the fangs are hollow as venom is channeled through the fangs when biting prey, and sinks into its preys body through the bite. The fangs of the King Cobra may be short but they strike downwards quickly at their prey killing them with poison before the prey has the chance to move. The fangs of males are often larger than females. King Cobra fangs are likely to be adapted to short fangs so that the venom goes into the prey faster than waiting for the venom to pass through long fangs, meaning that the actual main weapon is the poison and is partially the bite that the fang does to slightly damage. There might have been environmental pressure from a King Cobra which tried to kill prey of an venomous snake, but lost as it could not injure the snake in the short time which they are attacked by poison from the venomous snake.
King Cobra Fangs - Source - http://imagecache6.allposters.com/LRG/28/2882/QB8PD00Z.jpg
King Cobra Fangs - Source - http://imagecache6.allposters.com/LRG/28/2882/QB8PD00Z.jpg



2>Tongue
The tongues of the King Cobra is seen as being scary but in reality the forked shaped tongue which splits in the middle dividing into two, is only used to find prey and is also used to warn predators when they feel they are threated such as when the y are defending the nest. On the forked tongue there is a special sensory receptor which is called the Vomeronasal organ (Jacobson's organ) which is in the above the mouth of most snakes including the King Cobra. The tongue helps the animal as it can be used to smell prey and to avoid unnecessary battles against predators. Environmental pressure that could have risen for the adaptation of the unique tongue is probably used as an alternative way to find prey if other senses could not be used or so that they could detect prey through smell which is found outside the rerach of its eyes.

Jacobs Organ - Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gray51.png
Jacobs Organ - Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gray51.png


Physiological Adaptations

Diet
The King Cobra mainly feeds on other snakes, such as pythons and venomous snakes such as the Indian Cobra and Kraits. When there is not enough food King Cobras tend to feed on small vertebrates such as birds, rodents and lizards. Sometimes it may constrict birds and rodents when hunting, but is not seen often. King Cobras have a very slow metabolic rate so it may take months until they need to eat again if they have eaten big prey. The King Cobras most common food is the ratsnake which are often nearby human settlements, which may be a danger for the cobras, or humans. The King Cobra has a helpful diet as food which can last for months would make it easier for their survival for food, waiting for an interval for recovery, and avoid higher chances of being injured or killed by predators or their prey. King Cobras probably has evolved to have a different diet to other animals which normally eat rodents instead of snakes as their intelligence of killing their similar kind and staying at the top of snakes gives them power within snakes.
King Cobra diagram - Source - http://familykerrigan.com/matt/cobra_files/image002.jpg
King Cobra diagram - Source - http://familykerrigan.com/matt/cobra_files/image002.jpg



Bibliography
King Cobra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.).Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Cobra

King Cobra. (n.d.). Facts About Snakes, Species, Characteristics, World's Deadliest Snakes. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://www.snakes-uncovered.com/King_Cobra.html

King Cobra - Ophiophagus hannah. (n.d.). Free Website Hosting – Angelfire free website templates to make your own free website. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/animals1/snake/kingcobra.html

Animals: King Cobras | eThemes | eMINTS. (n.d.).eMINTS. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00000966.shtml

King Cobra Printout- EnchantedLearning.com. (n.d.).ENCHANTED LEARNING HOME PAGE. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/reptiles/snakes/Kingcobra.shtml

Introduction. (n.d.). Cobra Information Site Homepage - cobra, cobras, venom, elapids, naja, snake, snakebite, herpetology, herp, King Cobra. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://www.cobras.org/cob_1.htm

Young, D. (n.d.). ADW: Ophiophagus hannah: Information . Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved July 29, 2010, from
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ophiophagus_hannah.html