The report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers new evidence to support the notion that primates evolved keen vision skills so they could sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴇ the tʜʀᴇᴀts snakes pose in the jungle.
Though ꜰᴇᴀʀ of snakes may not be innate, noticing them more than other phenomena may be hard-wired by evolution, said Lynne Isbell, an evolutionary biologist from the University of California, Davis. That heightened attention, research has shown, can lead to early and resilient learned behaviour, such as ꜰᴇᴀʀ-mediated avoidance. In other words, getting out of the way of snakes.“The characteristics we have help us to see them better than other mammals can see them,” Isbell said. “Mammals in general are really good at picking up movement. But snakes lie in wait. They don’t move very much, so it’s crucial to see them before they see us and to avoid them.”