Harry W. Greene, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University
Come hear the fascinating story of how snakes and primates have influenced one another’s evolution for millions of years. Harry Greene from Cornell University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution explores the theory that snakes have influenced the evolution of primate neurobiology, vision, and fear, beginning as long as 75 million years ago with constricting predators and 50 million years ago with venomous adversaries. The origins of venomous front-fangs radically changed encounters with snake predators, such that birds and primates, with their sophisticated visual, acoustical, and cognitive abilities, influenced the evolution of serpentine defensive displays and mimicry. As weapon-wielders, primates in particular might have affected snake evolution, including the origins of serpents’ long-distance weaponry in Africa and Asia. These long-term, evolutionary relationships among snakes and primates both challenge and inspire efforts to conserve snakes.
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