Video: Shape-Shifting Sea Snakes

Researchers at the University of Adelaide‘s Environment Institute are using comparative approaches to understand how phenotypic diversity evolves by the process of natural selection, using a surprising group of animals: sea snakes.

Sea snakes, related to Australian venomous snakes such as tiger snakes, are an excellent system to study trait evolution. The video below shows us how some sea snakes have evolved a unique body shape – a tiny head atop a narrow forebody with a wide hindbody – to exploit the niche of feeding on eels hidden in burrows on the seafloor.

Scientists Dr Emma Sherratt and Associate Professor Kate Sanders examined the system from different angles, looking at evolutionary history, morphological change during development, and dietary specialisation, to create a big picture of how these so-called ‘microcephalic’ forms evolved multiple times among other species of sea snake.

Read the original article which includes the four research papers by Dr Sherratt, Associate Professor Sanders and their colleagues on this topic.

More about this research

Tagged in Research, Environment Institute, School of Biological Sciences, Marine Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition