Science

Rapid Viper Strikes In The Wild, Here's What Makes Them Successful Hunters

By Ayin Badz , Jan 14, 2017 05:11 AM EST
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Researchers were able to capture how rapid viper strikes catches its prey. Feeding is the most basic need for an animal to survive. Every living organism is more likely to be eaten by another. However, there are different skills, how predators hunt their prey, like the chameleon's tongue, cheetah sprinting, fox diving into snow. Every animal has its own specialization on how to catch or escape a predator or prey.

The antagonistic predator-prey relationship is of interest to evolutionary biologists because it often leads to extreme adaptations in both the predator and prey. One example of this relationship is the rattlesnake-kangaroo rat system. This is a model system that studies the dynamic of high-power predator-prey interactions. This can be observed at a completely natural condition.

Curiously researchers would like to see how the rapid viper strike occurs during the hunt of a rattlesnake. But now, using the technological advances in portable high-speed cameras, biologist were able to capture three-dimensional video in the field of a rattlesnake preying on a kangaroo rat. The biologists, Timothy Higham at the University of California said, predator-prey interactions are naturally variable, much more so than we would ever observe in a controlled laboratory setting.

According to the Science Daily, Higham and his team would like to answer the questions as to what factors determine the success/failure of a strike or escape. In the case of the rattle snake and the kangaroo rat, chances were up to the rattle snake's accuracy and the ability of the kangaroo rat to evade the viper before the strike. Higham added that they have captured and incredible footage of Mohave rattlesnakes striking in the middle of the night, under infrared lighting, in New Mexico during the summer of 2015.

There were also chances where the rattle snake misses dramatically, either it is because the rattle snake simply misses or the kangaroo rat moved away in time. Many other studies examined snake strikes but this is the first study to actually to quantify strikes using high-speed video in the wild. Result say that the rapid viper strike of a rattlesnake extremely exceeds the defensive strike speeds and accelerations observed in the lab.

Their results also show that kangaroo rats could amplify their power when under attack by rattlesnakes via elastic energy storage. According to the Live Science, Higham said that technology is now allowing us to understand what determines the successful capture and evasion under natural conditions. Being able to capture a rapid viper strike of a rattle snake could help scientist understand predator-prey relationship.

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