GOLEM GRAD ISLAND, Macedonia, April 18 (UPI) -- Nature can be a cold and grisly place. Scientists perusing the Macedonian island of Golem Grad in Lake Prespa found that out the hard way when they happened upon a dead young female nose-horned viper with a centipede protruding halfway out the snake's stomach.
The two animals had, quite literally, eaten each other to death.
The viper was found without most of her guts, suggesting that after swallowed, the centipede ate its way out of the snake's insides. But alas, chomping its way out for one last breath of air was all the centipede could manage before joining the viper in endless sleep.
The researchers -- from the University of Belgrade in Serbia -- who came upon the crime scene detailed their findings in a report for Ecologica Montenegrina.
"Nose-horned vipers usually feed on small mammals, lizards, other snakes, amphibians and birds," the researchers wrote. "On Golem Grad Island, adult vipers feed on lizards, dice snakes, and small rabbits, while juveniles consume lizards and S. cingulata [the centipede found in the discovery]."
This particular nose-horned viper apparently bit off more than she could chew, swallowing a centipede that actually weighed more than she did.
"[W]e found that only the snake's body wall remained -- the entire volume of its body was occupied by the centipede)," researchers wrote, "which led us to suppose that the prey caused chemical or mechanical damage to the predator's digestive organs."