Yes, snakes can see. Scientists have identified the molecular mechanism of the operation of special snake head organs intended for “seeing” heat sources, which can be both small rodents on which snakes hunt, and large predatory animals that must be avoided, reported in an article of scientists published in the online issue of the journal Nature.
This ability to see the sources of heat is the so-called “sixth sense” of snakes, and does not occur in other animal species.
In their work, a group of scientists led by David Julius from the University of California at San Francisco proved that snakes “see” thermal radiation not with the help of the organs of sight, the range of which could simply be expanded to infrared, and with the help of special organs , designed to detect sources of elevated temperature.
“The zoologists before us have already done most of the work, describing the anatomical structure of this sensory system of snakes.What they did not know and what was discovered to us is the molecular mechanism of the operation of this sensory system,” said Julius, quoted by the online edition of Nature News .
In this work, scientists made a genetic comparison of the usual nerve fibers in the nervous system of snakes, and the nerves coming from special organs on snout snakes, called pits, which were identified by zoologists as sources of the sixth sense of these animals.