The animal on the cover of Programming Amazon EC2 is a bushmaster snake. A member of the genus Lachesis, it may belong to any of the three recognized bushmaster species: Lachesis muta, Lachesis stenophrys, and Lachesis melanocephala. Each resides in the forested regions of Central and South America, particularly the Amazon River basin.
Collectively, bushmasters are known to be the longest venomous snakes in the world; the average length is 6 to 8 feet, though exceptional specimens have been noted to grow upward of 10 feet. The snakes are reddish-brown in appearance, and sport some variety of X or diamond patterns across their backs, as well as spines at the end of their tails.
As a type of pit viper, bushmasters will often lay in wait for prey to appear for weeks at a time; depending on the size of captured prey, the snakes can survive on as few as 10 meals per year. Bushmasters are also thought to be the only New World pit vipers to lay eggs, as opposed to giving birth to live young. Females have been known to remain with the nest during incubation and to defend it if approached.
Bushmasters have at least one claim to fame: their genus, Lachesis, is named for one of the three Fates in Greek mythology. Lachesis, known as the drawer of lots, was tasked with determining individuals’ life spans by measuring every person’s thread of life against her measuring rod.
The cover image is from J. G. Wood’s Animate Creation. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype ...