Primates and Snakes, 75 Million Years of Deadly Dialogue? [video]

December 5, 2017
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Harry Greene from Cornell University’s Department of Ecology and Evolution, explores the theory that snakes and primates have influenced each other’s evolution for millions of years. The snake-primate relationship started about 75 million years ago with constricting snakes. 50 millions years ago, the origins of venomous front-fangs created an additional challenge to primates (and birds as well). In turn, primates’ sophisticated visual, acoustical, and cognitive abilities influenced the evolution of serpentine defensive displays and mimicry. For example, the ability of early hominids to hunt with weapons may be responsible for the origins of serpents’ long-distance weaponry in Africa and Asia. The long-term, evolutionary relationship between snakes and primates challenges and inspires efforts in snake conservation.

The talk took place on December 4, 2017. It is part of the Cornell Lab’s long-running Monday Night Seminar series, a tradition established decades ago by Lab founder Dr. Arthur Allen. If you enjoyed this seminar, check this page for our list of future speakers—we’ll note which upcoming talks will be livestreamed—or come visit us in person!