Ok so, unless you're literally Brendan Fraser in Blast From The Past, then by now you know that Taylor Swift has been uploading some glitchy cryptic videos of a scaly creature slithering about.
This is one:
This is another:
Basically everyone thinks it's a snake. "SNAKE! SNAKE!" They screamed at their computer screens.
I mean, it makes sense. It seems like it could be a snake...after all it's slithering! But I wondered to myself, what kind of snake??? WHAT KIND?!?!??!
Some people took guesses as to what it was because everyone on the internet is a detective (including myself, clearly). This person said it's a Javan Tubercle Snake.
And another said it was a Viper.
These speculations made me question everything I thought I knew about scales/snakes/things with no arms and legs. So I decided to ask an expert.
I reached out to Dr. Sara Ruane, an assistant professor at Rutgers, who is an Herpetologist and has been studying the subject since she was five years old. First I asked her about the ~creature~ in the videos. This is what she had to say:
Both of them seem like they may be computer generated animations of something sort of like a squamate (the taxonomic group that includes lizards and snakes). I think they are cgi based on how they move, which isn't especially realistic to real snakes.
Ah ha! So, um, yeah, the thing is probably CGI. I guess that's not THAT shocking, but Dr. Ruane went on, saying something that did shock me. Maybe it's not a snake at all...but...a lizard!!!!
"The first one I saw (the darker looking clip) really reminds me more of a lizard tail than any snake, as the scales lay in a way that isn't how snake scales lay. It's more in line with lizards that have long, spiny tails"
Ah ha again! Dr. Ruane continued, "There are many genera Takydromas, Sceloporus, Uromastyx, and Cordylus to name a few."
She continued to say that "the other clip has some similarities with a snake genus called Atheris (African bush vipers), which have these scales that are not totally flat on the body, similar to the clip. Since these videos are so grainy and distorted and with both forward and reversing of the same video clip, it's hard to say exactly what is going on here." AGREE!!
I then asked her what her thoughts were on the guesses by the folks on Twitter.
Dr. Ruane had this to say:
This "guess" is the snake I mentioned above, it shows a picture of an Atheris (bush viper). This is NOT not known as a Javan tubercle snake. The Javan tubercle snake is a snake called Xenodermus javanicus...which is known more commonly as a dragon snake and does have weird scales, but not anything like the Swifty posting, and not anything like Atheris which is the photo shown on that twitter post. So that guess sort of hits the right photo of similar looking snakes but not the right name for it.