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Island tiger snakes' skulls adapt to eat large sea bird chicks

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

A study by researchers from the University of Adelaide and other institutions has found that in a population of island tiger snakes, the bones in their jaws increase in length after feeding on large prey, while their mainland counterparts show no change.

The new study, published in Evolutionary Biology, presents the first detailed examination of the effects that diet has on the head shape of tiger snakes, a phenomenon known as diet-induced phenotypic plasticity.

"Much like an athlete's body changes shape with intense training, an island tiger snake's skull adapts to the food it needs to survive," said senior author Dr. Alessandro Palci from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

"Island tiger snakes start showing shape changes in their skull bones only after prolonged feeding on large prey.


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