Scientists find mechanism behind cobra hood
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Last Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010, 18:23
London: Solving an intriguing biological mystery, scientists have found the mechanism behind the menacing 'hood flare' which cobras use as a defensive display, with the help of just eight muscles.

The American researchers led by Kenneth Kardong from Washington State University identified the precise group of muscles used by cobras to raise their hoods.

In the research, published in Journal of Experimental Biology, the team took measurements of electrical activity from all of the muscles in the cobra's neck and also did some very tricky surgery to implant tiny electrodes into the snake's neck muscles.

"In the cobra, both the [rib bones] and the muscles that work them are deployed to erect this visual display," Kardong was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Kardong said, just eight muscles were involved in "hooding" and that they were muscles that were also present in non-hooding snakes also.

"This is an example of evolution's remodelling as derived species emerge," he said, adding "there's been a change in the nervous system's control over these muscles."

The researcher said that the cobra's hood was "an intriguing problem in evolutionary biology".

"We wanted to examine the way in which the ribs were 'freed up' to rotate into this presentation position and to understand how the muscles were able to accomplish that and return them to a relaxed position," he added.


First Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010, 18:23

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