Snakes Alive! Reptiles Helped Develop Human Vision
(NEW YORK) — You can thank snakes for the evolution of better eyesight in humans.
At least that’s the idea first espoused by anthropologist Lynne Isbell of the University of California, Davis and recently tested by Japanese and Brazilian researchers who worked with rhesus macaque monkeys and their reactions to slimy, threatening reptiles.
In their study, the scientists discovered that snake-sensitive neurons in the brains of monkeys responded more strongly and rapidly than other nerve cells when neutral images were viewed.
What gives particular credence to their findings is that the rhesus macaque monkeys had been isolated in a colony where they had never seen snakes before the study was conducted.
As a result, Isbell says the experiment appears to verify her contention that good, close-range vision was probably the consequence of primates keeping an eye out for snakes.
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