fer-de-lance (fĕrˌ-də-lănsˈ) [key], highly poisonous snake, Bothrops atrox, found in tropical South America and the West Indies. A pit viper, related to the bushmaster and the rattlesnake, it has heat-sensitive organs on the head for detecting its warm-blooded prey. Usually about 5 to 6 ft (150–180 cm) long, the fer-de-lance may reach a maximum length of about 9 ft (3 m). It is gray or brown with light stripes and dark diamond markings and has a yellow throat. Common throughout most of its range, it causes many human fatalities. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Crotalidae.
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