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.
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