Cool snakes confuse scientists, according to an article in Journal of Experimental Biology 5 September 2018 doi:10.1242/jeb.182121.

Scientists from San Diego University and University of California, Davis have carried out a study of how rattlesnakes respond to warm objects in the environment.  Rattlesnakes are a kind of pit viper – snakes that have heat sensing organs named facial pits, in their heads.  Snakes are ectothermic or “cold blooded”, i.e. they absorb heat from the environment so their body temperature with changes in their surroundings.

The scientists wanted to find out if the temperature of the snake, changed their response when presented with a heat target.  Normally cold-blood creatures are less active and less responsive when they are cool, and more active when they are warm.  However, the snakes in this experiment didn’t behave according to expectations.

The researchers wrote: “Physiological and biochemical process rates and, usually, behavioural responsiveness increase with temperature. Remarkably, rattlesnakes sensing warm moving targets with their facial pits are less responsive as body temperature increases.”  They went on to write: “We review various possible physiological mechanisms related to body temperature proposed in the literature, but find none that can satisfactorily explain this result.”  Their report has the refreshing honest title: “Cooler snakes respond more strongly to infrared stimuli, but we have no idea why.”

Editorial Comment:  It is assumed by evolutionary biologists that the heat sensing pits evolved to enable snakes to hunt warm blooded prey, such as small mammals.  However, Genesis tells us that all animals, snakes included, were originally designed to eat plants.  So, let us offer an idea to these clueless scientists based on a Biblical view of biology.

Cold blooded animals do have some control over their body temperature, and will seek out warm or cool places as needed in order to warm up or cool down.  Having heat sensing organs is good design, and in the original very good world they would have been used for temperature regulation, i.e. helping snakes find sources of heat when they were getting too cold.  If a snake sensed its body temperature was getting too low, it could seek out a warm place.  Therefore, it is no surprise to us that the snakes in the experiment reacted more strongly to a potential source of heat when they were cooler, because that is when they most need to find a warm place.  See our report Pit Start for Snakes.

We suggest this is another example of how knowing the Biblical history of the world provides a better basis for science in the present world.

Also, see the question: If the world was created good, why are creatures like snakes so well designed to hunt prey?  Answer by Diane Eager here.

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