Snakes Hear with Their Jaws

A new study by American and German scientists, published in the Physical Review Letters, has shed light on a classic zoological mystery: how do snakes hear?

For quite a while, researchers did not believe that snakes could hear, until tests performed in the 1970's proved otherwise. Still, those tests did not explain how the snakes managed to pick up sound. "They ain't got no ears," one prominent snake-eologist from Hope, Arkansas was noted to say. As later studies revealed, they actually do have ears, but a study released this week shows a second way for them to register noise, using their jaws.

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Eh?...Eh?...Speak into my good tooth!

Snakes' lower jaws are shaped a lot like the bottoms of ships, cylindrical and firm. When a wave hits a ship, that ship reacts with a " heave, pitch, roll, etc.". Likewise, a snake's lower jaw will...

have similar reaction when subjected to a sound wave. The movement then is transferred into the snake's cochlea where it is picked up by nerves and sent to the brain.

Furthermore, just as a ship whose hull is deeper in the water will be more stable, snakes seem to bury themselves in the sand to make their hearing more accurate. There must be no experience to compare with hearing all the nuance of a mouse fart from ten feet away...Majestic.


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