17 December 2013

Snake Photo Addendum

In last Friday’s blog post, Afraid of Snakes?, I commented that our fear of snakes has apparently grown over the millennia. A 2011 study from SIL International and Cornell University examined interactions that have long characterized the evolutionary history of snakes and primates.

The paper, published online in 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reported ethnographic observations of a group of 120 Philippine Agta, then still preliterate hunter-gatherers. Fatal attacks by pythons had occurred over the years and over one quarter of the adult males had survived python attacks. Since the Agta ate pythons and animals that python fed on, the humans and snakes were reciprocally prey, predators and potential competitors.

Reticulated python, 6.9 meters (22.6 ft) long, shot
by the Agta on the right; Luzon, Philippines, 1970.
(Photo by J. Headland, from PNAS)
Skin of the same python, which provided about 25 kg
(55 lb) of meat. (Photo by J. Headland, from PNAS).
Radiograph of a reticulated python’s stomach, containing
 two young macaque monkeys; Singapore.
(Photo by A. Devan-Song from PNAS).

- Study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
- Cornell University article that alerted me to the study: www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/12/primates-prey-predators-and-competitors-snakes

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