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.
More on fer-de-lance from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology