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Ophidian Biotremology

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Part of the Animal Signals and Communication book series (ANISIGCOM,volume 8)

Abstract

Snakes evince the ability to detect substrate-borne mechanical waves (through a variety of substrates) and surface mechanical waves; exactly how these specialized vertebrates accomplish this remains largely unknown. Behavioral and neurophysiological studies in snakes have struggled to differentiate the modalities, mechanisms, and central pathways for the airborne and ground-borne detection of mechanical waves. The snake cochlea is the best-known component of this sensory system; previous studies have shown that the snake cochlea has a rather consistent frequency response range, some intriguing differences in sensitivity, and a mechanical coupling to the middle ear ossicle. How pressure waves reach the middle ear ossicle/cochlea is not clear; whether or not there are pathways (perhaps utilizing the lung) to the cochlea that bypass the ossicle, and the relative role of the snake’s vestibular system in the detection of mechanical waves (if any), remain a mystery. The pathway by which neural signals transduced in the cochlea reach higher brain centers has not been determined in snakes. Perhaps most intriguing, we do not know how pressure stimuli encoded at the cochlea are integrated with stimuli encoded elsewhere on the snake’s body.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Catherine Carr for her considerate guidance, and Peter Kondrashov for his continued support. D.H. was supported by NIDCD 000436.

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Han, D., Young, B.A. (2022). Ophidian Biotremology. In: Hill, P.S.M., Mazzoni, V., Stritih-Peljhan, N., Virant-Doberlet, M., Wessel, A. (eds) Biotremology: Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution. Animal Signals and Communication, vol 8. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-97419-0_14

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