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Harmless snakes mimic an extinct poisonous snake

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Nature tells us: Snakes mimic extinct species to avoid predators

Scarlet kingsnakes are chasing an evolutionary ghost. In North Carolina’s Sandhills forest, the harmless snakes have evolved to better resemble a poisonous species that vanished from the region more than 50 years ago.

“When I went and collected the data, I looked at it and said, ‘This can’t be’,” Akcali says. The kingsnakes from the Sandhills that were collected in recent years tended to more closely resemble coral snakes — with red and black bands more similar in size — than did snakes collected in the 1970s, which tended to have larger black bands. He and Pfennig detected no such change in the Florida panhandle snakes over the same period. They report their results today in Biology Letters.

Well, it’s possible that they have interpreted what is happening completely wrong. Second, snakes are not very smart.

But Tom Sherratt, an evolutionary biologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, is not so sure that scarlet kingsnakes’ mimicry will become sketchier over time. “Many of the predators — especially avian ones — are mobile and may visit locations where the model is present, which might explain why selection for mimicry still lingers.”

They’ve probably got it all wrong anyway, but birds do tend to be smarter than snakes …

7 Replies to “Harmless snakes mimic an extinct poisonous snake

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    I don’t know if this is accurate but if it was in a few years that snakes were selected out by being eaten and the mimics survived by the predators fears THEN FINE.
    Its a minor case of selection within a short period and is welcome to this YEC.
    Fast and quick and no mutations really involved except ordinary differences in looks.
    I question that such a large area was affected and how m,any snakes did these researchers really find in the field.
    However such a case is acceptable to creationism .
    nothing to do with the glory of mutationism and selection and time.

  2. 2
    Henry Crun says:

    So News says the researchers are probably wrong. Byers questions how many snakes they found in the field. Yet I don’t see either of then rushing out to do their own studies in the field. No: it’s much easier to sit back in your armchair, trash those who can do the work and come up with ill-informed speculation based on no knowledge of the subject. Those who can, do; those who can’t, blog.

  3. 3
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach propose ID.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    Henry Crun
    you misunderstood my thread.
    anyways. those who blog can do a better intellectual job while avoiding touching man eating snakes.
    In science its results that matter. no hard work in the swamps.

  5. 5
    anthropic says:

    Probably a change in population frequencies, much like the peppered moth. Interesting, but nothing remotely like what is necessary to build a snake in the first place.

  6. 6
    Henry Crun says:

    We’ll, you heard it first from Byers. You don’t get results by going out and getting evidence and data; you get results by blogging. If only they’d had blogs in the 19th century – Michelson and Morley could have dispensed with their interferometer, and we’d have realised there really was an ether after all.

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    Henry Chun
    One gets results by intelligent investigation. in the field or in the armchair makes no difference if one is right and demonstrates it if there is call for proof.

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