Snakes aren't a rare sight in Australia, but this three-eyed snake was certainly a shock, even to rangers who are used to wild animals.
The carpet python fondly referred to as "Monty Python" featured three fully functioning eyes with its extra eye smack dab on the forehead.
The Three-Eyed Monty Python
According to the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service, rangers discovered the strange animal along the Arnhem Highway near the town of Humpty Doo. It was still a juvenile at just around 15 inches or 40 centimeters long.
Besides the extra eye, another remarkable thing about Monty is the fact that the snake was able to survive.
David Penning, an assistant professor of biology at the Missouri Southern State University, told Live Science that mother snakes often eat the "bad eggs" after laying them. It's also common for snakes with deformities to die just a few days after birth, he added.
Monty Python died at the end of April 2019 at just 2 months old.
Third Eye Was A Natural Mutation, According To Scientists
An x-ray revealed the third eye wasn't a result of two separate skulls fusing together. Instead, the nonvenomous carpet snake truly boasted three functioning eyes with an additional eye socket.
As far as mutations go, an extra functioning eye is extraordinary, according to Penning.
"When you think of the complexity involved within the skull and nervous tissue, there is so much more going on here than just that one new eye," he explained, pointing out how a third eye requires a third optic nerve, which would shift the brain's normal layout.
Experts agree that the mutation was natural, forming very early during the embryonic stage of development. It's reportedly unlikely for the mutation to be a result of environmental factors. After all, mutation is quite common among reptiles and a natural part of evolution.
"Every baby has a mutation of some sort-this one is just particularly coarse and misshapen," said Professor Bryan Fry, a snake expert from the University of Queensland, in a report from BBC. "I haven't seen a three-eyed snake before, but we have a two-headed carpet python in our lab-it's just a different kind of mutation like what we see with Siamese twins."
Fry suggested that it's also possible for the third eye to be the last bit of a potential twin that Monty Python was able to absorb.