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Snakes Can Hear in Stereo (And So Can You! Listen to the Physics Buzz Podcast!)

A team of physicists recently confirmed that snakes listen with their jaws. Plus, those flexible jaw connections mean they can hear in stereo. Listen to the Physics Buzz podcast to learn more!

Caption:The horned desert viper Cerastes cerastes typically rests its head on the sand surface to listen for prey. An incoming sand surface wave sets the two independent sides of the lower jaw in motion which is then relayed through quadrate and stapes into the inner ear.

Hey Physics Buzz regulars! Sorry for the long delay (again) since the last post. That darn March Meeting is keeping us pretty busy, along with lots of other fun things. I hope the addition of a podcast will help you forgive us. There will be a few more in the coming weeks, so keep checking for updates.

Podcast Music: “Sweet Blossom” by Robin Stine, courtesy of


  1. Oh, snickering snakes, I could've used that, huh?

    Well, well, well, (Now that’s a “Deep” subject) it appears that Ben Stein has a lill’ movie.

    I have a wee film/research too but unlike Mr. Stein mine illuminates AND entertains in about five minutes and, A-N-D, it’s FREE!

    The Jewish Mr. Stein (BTW: moi’s film/research tells how the Jewish people REALLY came about) charges you for propaganda and I give the human race knowledge for free, ain’t I an idiot? Perhaps.

    And here is moi’s, officially ignored, film/research
    into the origin of Christendom.

    Since the film is
    the awful facts it must be disregarded by those that tout
    the beautiful untruths.

    The Religious Authorities, and those that GAIN from there being religions [e.g., People in the “Business” of Atheism], always say NOT to view that which they DO want you to see and avert their eyes, and remain quite silent, about that which they hope you will not chance upon.

    Part I

    Part II

    If there were a place, and there is, where intelligence that rises little higher than our human brain stems’ capacity WERE allowed Mr. Stein WOULD be found there, hence. . .check you local theater listings for Mr. Stein and murmuring mermaids and yammering yaks - talkin’ terrorists - pontificating puppies - babbling babes – enunciating elephants – answering ants – zinging zombies - replying Rambos a al lambos – and many more such “Levels,” though a basically base intellectual strata they t’were, ‘tis and t’will be.

    Stay on groovin’
    (Ain’t ya glad moi didn’t alliterate from A to Z?)

  2. Great snakes! They see in infrared and hear in stereo, thats too much for these slithering creatures, isn't it?

  3. Good question, amiya.

    Snakes do have a lot going for them in the way of senses: remember that they also smell with their tongues, and this article from bnet says they can also SMELL IN STEREO!
    mi_m0EPG/is_n2_v30/ai_17867815) Talk about extremely efficient products of nature. I will mention that from what I've found, only some snakes can "see" in infrared (mostly pit vipers, a few boas, and a few others), and the paper we discussed here on PhysicsBuzz only studied horn rimmed vipers. That being said, it may be that not all snakes have all of these advantages. Also, hearing in stereo is not uncommon in animals, it's just interesting that this particular way of hearing also offers that advantage.

    Still, it brings up the interesting question of why these animals are so incredibly equipped. Why do snakes need these creative methods of sense rather than what most animals use? Do they have an unfair advantage, and why? But even snakes are at risk for extinction in many parts of the world due mostly to habitat destruction, and their numbers are often very difficult to track.


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