Tech & Science

Snakes have surprisingly sensitive hearing: study

They may have no ears, but new research suggests that snakes may be able to hear better than you might think.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia looked at how different types of snakes respond to sound. their research Journal PLOS ONE last weekincluded 19 snakes from five genetic subfamilies.

Lead author Christina Zdenek said in a news release, “Because snakes don’t have external ears, people usually think they’re deaf and can only feel vibrations from the ground up through their bodies.” Our study is the first to use an unanesthetized, free-moving snake to find that it responds to sound waves transmitted through the air, and possibly to human voices.”

The researchers conducted experiments with snakes in a soundproof room and observed not only body movements but also hissing, tongue flicking, and head and jaw movements in response to three different sounds. .

Different types of frequencies were also tested, including low frequency sounds from 1-150 Hz, medium frequency sounds from 150-300 Hz, and high frequency sounds from 300-300 Hz that caused the ground to vibrate. 450Hz.

Different species respond differently to sound. The American python was the only snake that increased its movement in response to sound, and actually tended to move towards it.

“The rock python is a large, nocturnal snake that has fewer predators than smaller species and probably doesn’t need to be alarmed, so it tends to be closer to sound,” Zdenek said.

However, death adders, taipans, and brown snakes are more likely to shy away from sounds, suggesting that sounds may be one way to avoid predators. showed.

“Taipans may have to worry about raptor predators, and since they actively pursue prey, their senses seem to be much more sensitive,” Zdenek added.

The study also found that snakes were more likely to be able to hear human speech. Death adders moved away from speakers when researchers played low- and medium-frequency sounds, whereas taipans displayed only defensive behavior in response to medium-frequency sounds.

“We know very little about how most snake species navigate situations and landscapes around the world. But our research suggests that sound is an important part of their sensory repertoire. It shows that there is potential,” Zdenek said.

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