Scientists find mechanism behind cobra hood

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.

PTI




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