I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

User avatar
John Delgado
Posts: 168
Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:10 am
Location: Ukiah, CA

I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by John Delgado » June 5th, 2015, 5:16 pm

I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen a gopher snake mimic a rattlesnake :)

Here is a nice little fella, well actually he was about 5' long, very healthy Gopher Snake.

I initially took several in situ shots of this guy soaking up some residual ground heat, and we was quickly alerted to me. I was NOT going to touch him, or disturb him, but hhahhaa wow :lol: did he put on an Academy Award winning performance of a rattlesnake.

After this video, a 4X4 rail came screaming by ... so I picked him up and moved him to a safer location about 35 yards off the OHV road.

Best shot I ever took is at the end of the video ... my fav pic evar...! -- Enjoy.....


User avatar
SurfinHerp
Posts: 655
Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
Location: San Diego, CA
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by SurfinHerp » June 6th, 2015, 2:55 pm

Excellent video John!

You really did some quality editing. :beer:

I might use this video to educate people about gopher snakes.

Cheers,

Jeff

double d
Posts: 50
Joined: December 27th, 2012, 5:46 pm
Location: lakeland, florida

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by double d » June 6th, 2015, 3:12 pm

Excellent video indeed !! Unfortunately we do not have gopher snakes here in florida. Thanks for the knowledge. Awesome find!

User avatar
John Delgado
Posts: 168
Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:10 am
Location: Ukiah, CA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by John Delgado » June 6th, 2015, 5:47 pm

Thank you -- Working on honing my editing skills, I'm such a noob :lol:

Need to get over being shy when narrating ... viewing that now, there is soooooo much more I could've explained about gopher snake mimicry.

Thanks again ... glad you enjoyed the video - jd :)

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 6th, 2015, 6:28 pm

Sometimes I wonder if what we are seeing is a convergence of behaviors, and not actually mimicry.

Like what comes first, the pit or the crote? And did rattlesnakes just take it to another level?

And I wonder about the mechanics of the bones and associated ligaments and muscles - in a defensive mode prior to a strike,, could the conformation we see be an anatomical thing, precipitant to striking, or the flattening somehow damage reducing to the skull in moments of risk?

But because we see a triangle and an S and a vibrating tail, and because one is venomous we automatically identify the non venomous one as mimicking the venomous one.

Bob McKeever
Posts: 116
Joined: July 9th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Bob McKeever » June 6th, 2015, 7:31 pm

I think Kelly has hit the nail pretty squarely regarding this behavior.

User avatar
John Delgado
Posts: 168
Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:10 am
Location: Ukiah, CA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by John Delgado » June 6th, 2015, 7:40 pm

Kelly Mc wrote:Sometimes I wonder if what we are seeing is a convergence of behaviors, and not actually mimicry.

Like what comes first, the pit or the crote? And did rattlesnakes just take it to another level?

And I wonder about the mechanics of the bones and associated ligaments and muscles - in a defensive mode prior to a strike,, could the conformation we see be an anatomical thing, precipitant to striking, or the flattening somehow damage reducing to the skull in moments of risk?

But because we see a triangle and an S and a vibrating tail, and because one is venomous we automatically identify the non venomous one as mimicking the venomous one.
Fascinating post Kelly ... I welcome a discussion on your views.

I am very fascinated by the gopher snake mimicry of the rattlesnake, whether mimicry is "anatomical" or "convergence of behaviors" or as I like to call it 'The Mystery of Mother Nature'. I'm not a biologist, nor am I a herpetologist ... just an amateur 'noob' field herper leraning how to do it the right way ... and is why I am here on FHF to learn from the experienced ones.

Now, I do rely on a divine nature of things i.e. Mother Nature. My purpose in study of these remarkable and fascinating creatures is only to admire God's great creations.

However, a quick Google search of reptile mimicry or insect mimicry will result in a windfall of pics and video ... various creatures mimicking an always more powerful and capable insect/reptile to ward off suspecting predators. When something is copied over and over and over again in the animal kingdom ... one has to wonder if all of it is a master plan of divine programming.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 7th, 2015, 12:29 pm

just posted elsewhere on this, elsewhere... They are not actually mimicing any other snakes... plenty of snakes will rattle their tails, puff up, hiss etc... with no arms or legs... there are a limited number of defensive actions a snake can take. we never say 'that rattlesnake is mimicing a gophersnake by hissing and striking' :shock: :lol: We people imagine that snakes are doing something very clever (like intentional mimicry) when in fact they are just doing what comes naturally...

followed by... We humans force our 'abstract purview' really, on all we survey and often credit animals with thinking 'like us'... when in fact they don't 'think' much at all, as much as react instinctively to stimuli... there's no ' wow that was a close call' or ' my rattling should scare them off'... or... 'i'm gonna pretend to be something i'm not'. :roll: Gophersnakes are not aware that rattlesnakes EVEN have rattles that make noise, or for that matter... such a thing as noise even exists... snakes don't have external ears and are largely deaf... :crazyeyes:

User avatar
mtratcliffe
Posts: 533
Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Location: Springfield, VA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by mtratcliffe » June 7th, 2015, 4:43 pm

hellihooks wrote:just posted elsewhere on this, elsewhere... They are not actually mimicing any other snakes... plenty of snakes will rattle their tails, puff up, hiss etc... with no arms or legs... there are a limited number of defensive actions a snake can take. we never say 'that rattlesnake is mimicing a gophersnake by hissing and striking' :shock: :lol: We people imagine that snakes are doing something very clever (like intentional mimicry) when in fact they are just doing what comes naturally...

followed by... We humans force our 'abstract purview' really, on all we survey and often credit animals with thinking 'like us'... when in fact they don't 'think' much at all, as much as react instinctively to stimuli... there's no ' wow that was a close call' or ' my rattling should scare them off'... or... 'i'm gonna pretend to be something i'm not'. :roll: Gophersnakes are not aware that rattlesnakes EVEN have rattles that make noise, or for that matter... such a thing as noise even exists... snakes don't have external ears and are largely deaf... :crazyeyes:
My retort to that would be to ask how many snake species that do not overlap in range with Rattlesnakes species display similar behavior? I am curious to know - if there are any, please share. As far as I know/have been led to believe, several snake species in North America have evolved behaviors to mimic that of Rattlesnakes. If it works, then it increases their chance of survival, and thus passing the behavior on to their ancestors. Do they know that they are mimicking a Rattler? No, but it's in their genes.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 7th, 2015, 4:50 pm

Humans may also be more preoccupied with Venom, than other animals. We add a dramatic mystique to being venomous that other animals do not.

There is a video around here of some cats in Egypt messing around with cobras with a demeanor of casual amusement.

I also wonder about bright banded patterns and how our own eyesight, frames the reasoning for they're purpose. Other organisms see colors and motion differently than we do and maybe the bands in motion especially create another version of outline disruptive visuals that we assume is a warning because of the colors we see, and not really thinking of them in motion as an acting dynamic.

I have always wanted to see through the perceptions of other morphologies. We stand binocular as supreme in our own but it is really rather strictered when you think of the contexts of so many, many other animals and the ways they receive information about their surroundings. We are only one.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 8th, 2015, 6:12 am

mtratcliffe wrote: My retort to that would be to ask how many snake species that do not overlap in range with Rattlesnakes species display similar behavior? I am curious to know - if there are any, please share. As far as I know/have been led to believe, several snake species in North America have evolved behaviors to mimic that of Rattlesnakes. If it works, then it increases their chance of survival, and thus passing the behavior on to their ancestors. Do they know that they are mimicking a Rattler? No, but it's in their genes.
I'm kinda hard-pressed to think of an area in the continental US where crotes do NOT occur... so there is always going to be species 'overlap'. But... it's a moot point really, as snakes do not possess a 'theory of mind'... which is to say they have neither any 'self awareness' nor an awareness that other animals have similar 'minds' to be compared to.

That's not to say that behaviors can't be learned by 'higher orders' of animals, with greater cognitive abilities, such as mammals... just that snakes lack any ability to 'think about' what they are doing, as compared to what some other creature may or may not do.

I would go so far as to say gopher snakes have no awareness that rattlesnakes even exist, or that they have rattles, or what rattles are good for. I'd further argue that crotes don't know that they are making 'noise' as they are deaf and 'sound' is not something they are aware of. When stressed... they vibrate their tails, as a physiological response, rather than any kind of 'thought-out' defensive strategy.

From what I've seen... most colubrids (gophers, kings, glossy, rat snakes etc) do this as well) Most colubrids will hiss as well, as will crotes... but we never say crotes are mimicing gophers... :shock:

The idea that gophers are imitating crotes lies in the knowledge WE HAVE that crotes are inheriently more dangerous than gophers... neither of the snakes in question have the ability to comprehend the existance of another species, much less how some other species may differ from them... or that they themselves even 'exist'. Snakes respond to physiological needs and drives, with no appreciation of 'time'... as in... this did or did not work yesterday... so I'll do this today. What we see as 'memory' is more along the lines of 'operant conditioning' arising from inate behavior.

All that said... more and more 'abstract thought' is discovered and acknowledged all the time in seemingly 'lower animals'... not previously considered capable of having those abilities. King Cobras for example, are known to be one of the few animals that will actively stalk and kill a human, which osensibly would require some type of 'higher thought'.

So while nothing's 'etched in stone'... I think it's safe to say that tail shaking is just a widespread defensive behavior, and not a conscious defensive strategy, much less a 'copied one'.

User avatar
Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1217
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Bryan Hamilton » June 8th, 2015, 7:34 am

Have you all seen this paper by our own Sam Sweet?

Sweet, S. S. 1985. Geographic Variation, Convergent Crypsis and Mimicry in Gopher Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) and Western Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis). Journal of Herpetology 19:55-67.


It suggests that the behaviors we're discussing (tail rattling, head spreading, ect) are stronger in Pituophis where they are sympatric with Crotalus.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 8:13 am

Could it be that the gopher guys and the rattler guys both developed the same styles because of the grasses and ground stuff around them and the same animals that would prey on them or step on them?

Also as Jim said about other snakes boas and pythons vibrate tails too, that makes it seem basal snake behavior just sayin

User avatar
Kent VanSooy
Posts: 1100
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:51 am
Location: Oceanside

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kent VanSooy » June 8th, 2015, 9:01 am

Make yourself look bigger and badder, make some noise while you're at it....it's an age-old trick.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
monklet
Posts: 2648
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Location: Ventura, CA
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by monklet » June 8th, 2015, 9:20 am

Jim wrote:King Cobras for example, are known to be one of the few animals that will actively stalk and kill a human
I like your comments but ...Say what?

User avatar
John Delgado
Posts: 168
Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:10 am
Location: Ukiah, CA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by John Delgado » June 8th, 2015, 9:34 am

Haha ... nice post VanSooy :lol:

Here's a man mimicking a ... a ... BIGGER bear...?!!!? :shock:


User avatar
Noah M
Posts: 2289
Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Noah M » June 8th, 2015, 10:13 am

Defensive startateiges in animals are, as Kent pointed out, usually to make yourself look bigger, and make some noise. You know how the hair on the back of your neck stands up when you get scared? It has been suggested that this is what remains from when we humans had more hair back there, like fur. The raising of the hair would have made us appear larger. This "size matters" phenomena is everywhere.

The question then is why do we see some behaviors and techniques and not others? I would agree that 99% of it is not conscious behavior. No hognose or bullsnake looks at a rattlesnake and is like, "Dang, they have venom. I'll pretend to be them to scare away predators.". But as Matt, I think rightfully pointed out, is that evolution doesn't think on this level. Whatever works, works. And when something works, make more of it. And the bullsnake that puffs itself up, shakes it tail, maybe even hisses, survives to another day. That is, the bullsnake that looks more like a rattlesnake, acts more like a rattlesnake, and sounds more like a rattlesnake, survives another day, survives another generation. Eventually, it stands to reason that there will be some rattlesnake looking and behaving bullsnakes.

Or is it the rattlesnake that mimics the bullsnake? We know to fear the rattlesnake because of how lethal it can be, but we are less afraid of the bullsnake because they're just actors putting on a show. If I'm a big enough animal in the wild, naive about snakes, and I mess with a bullsnake, my paw or ankle might get bit, but I live another day. But if I do the same with a rattlesnake, I'm dead.

I think it is safe to say the bullsnake mimics the rattlesnake (if any mimicry is actually happening) because the selective pressure to avoid snakes comes from the rattlesnake, not the bullsnake. No evolutionary benefit comes to the rattlesnake by mimicing something that is less dangerous than itself. In the other direction, benefit does come to the bullsnake that mimics something more dangerous than itself.

Now, is making the "S" shape, flattening your head, and shaking your tail mimicing a rattlesnake? I don't know. But there are clearly some cases where mimicry happens. Young hognose snakes look an awful lot like the Sistrurus genus. And their hissing sounds an awful lot like the buzz of a rattle. I'm guessing that the hognoses whose hisses sounded like the Andy Griffith Theme Song quickly went extinct because that would have been a poor defensive tactic, evolutionarily speaking. Scarlet kingsnakes and scarlet snakes look an awful lot like coral snakes. This seems like a pretty clear case of mimicry to me.

I don't know enough about bullsnakes to argue if they are trying to imitate a rattler. Maybe they just look that way because that color pattern is great camouflage. Like how many harmless water snakes are killed because to the untrained eye they look like a cottonmouth. Is the water snake trying to mimic the cottonmouth, or is something else at play here? I would venture a guess that it is not mimicry, but that for aquatic habitats where both species reside, having a dark body and some kind of banding to break up the outline helps somehow.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 10:25 am

I wonder if bullsnakes and gophers did it before rattlesnakes even existed.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 10:49 am

I would like to find out more about behaviors of snakes that developed since mammals became major predators. Any suggestions?

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 8th, 2015, 12:20 pm

Again... no snake has the mental capacity to grasp the concept of 'mimicry' much less employ it. Mimicry implies an 'intent to copy'... and for an 'intent to copy' to be extant there needs to be a 'concept of self' vs a recognition of other 'selves' (to copy). Snakes lack the cerebral cortex to form the 'trains of thought' necessary for a 'theory of mind' (nevermind also possessing the also resiquite 'abstract abilities')

As Noah suggests, All 'mimicry' in reptiles is selective adaptation at work. with no 'higher thought processes' in play.

Not having had time to read Dr Sweet's paper (yet) I would venture to guess that places where crotes are abundant... the Predetors in those areas have learned to avoid anything resembling a crote, thus promoting adaptation for gophers who happen to employ 'crote-like' behaviors. I'm gonna read the paper soon... cause (again) for the life of me I can't think of any place where Pituophis are NOT sympatric with Crotalus. :shock:

User avatar
BillMcGighan
Posts: 2308
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Location: Unicoi, TN

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by BillMcGighan » June 8th, 2015, 1:03 pm

I seldom have answers, but rather questions:

To understand this behavior and the morphology better, should we be thinking, not of predators so much in this case, but more of these snakes (whether open grassland (Pits) or Chaparral grassland (Crots)) being trampled by some seriously heavy mega mammals that were much more common during these snakes' past?

These behaviors probably don't do much to dissuade predators like hawks, king snakes, roadrunners, coyotes, etc.
They could be a pretty serious warning to some of the megafauna.

ThomWild
Posts: 352
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 9:42 am
Location: Utah

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by ThomWild » June 8th, 2015, 1:07 pm

I could be wrong Jim but it sounds like you are confusing terms here. The generic term mimicry is as you say a cognitive attempt to copy something else, however evolutionary mimicry (e.g. Batesian or Mullerian) is simply a selection pressure, it has nothing to do with cognitive process. Evolutionarily speaking it is beneficial to look or act like something that may cause harm to a predator. There are a number of studies that show this to be the case, if you want examples let me know I will dig some up, or you can simply google either of the aforementioned types of mimicry.

As to Pits v. Crots and the question of which traits are more derived and which traits are more basal, I have know idea. I will leave that up to those who know more than I.

-Thomas

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 1:12 pm

I have questions like that too, like why kingsnakes would be selectively banded to mimic one species - Coral Snakes, when Coral Snakes are easy to kill and actually almost all snakes are.

A banded pattern is also in widespread snake species across the globe.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 1:26 pm

California Mountain Kings are among the most strongly banded snakes in the U.S. All the way around just like Corals. What are they mimicking?

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 1:43 pm

I was under the understanding that the updated saliva and mondo technology of crote delivery equipment was primarily a food acquisition one. Defense in use is secondary and conditional, and doesn't stop all animals from killing or severely damaging the snake anyway, even if bitten.?

User avatar
BillMcGighan
Posts: 2308
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
Location: Unicoi, TN

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by BillMcGighan » June 8th, 2015, 2:48 pm

Supplemental to this topic is this old post on how the behavior "repels" kids :lol: (and later in the post a white fox. ;) ;) )

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... 292#p22292

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 8th, 2015, 3:14 pm

ThomWild wrote:I could be wrong Jim but it sounds like you are confusing terms here. The generic term mimicry is as you say a cognitive attempt to copy something else, however evolutionary mimicry (e.g. Batesian or Mullerian) is simply a selection pressure, it has nothing to do with cognitive process. Evolutionarily speaking it is beneficial to look or act like something that may cause harm to a predator. There are a number of studies that show this to be the case, if you want examples let me know I will dig some up, or you can simply google either of the aforementioned types of mimicry.
-Thomas
No... I was trying to say what you said, so much better than I. I'm saying all mimicry is evolutionary mimicry... but people (not so much here, as other places I post, as a 'science officer) seem to think that it's cognitive mimicry... as in "How do they know to do that?"

That snakes 'think' in a similar fashion to us, is the myth that seems to resist debunking, given our penchant to anthropomorphise.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 3:18 pm

I am not able to consolidate in a lengthy post, without losing the post and having it say you must log in. So I post in pieces here.

I guess I am of the uh does my breath stink opinion that what is seen as mimic presentation among snakes may be unconsciously influenced by anthropocentric scale and perception, even sometimes by academia. :shock:

Stranger things have happened.

User avatar
mtratcliffe
Posts: 533
Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Location: Springfield, VA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by mtratcliffe » June 8th, 2015, 4:27 pm

hellihooks wrote:
ThomWild wrote:I could be wrong Jim but it sounds like you are confusing terms here. The generic term mimicry is as you say a cognitive attempt to copy something else, however evolutionary mimicry (e.g. Batesian or Mullerian) is simply a selection pressure, it has nothing to do with cognitive process. Evolutionarily speaking it is beneficial to look or act like something that may cause harm to a predator. There are a number of studies that show this to be the case, if you want examples let me know I will dig some up, or you can simply google either of the aforementioned types of mimicry.
-Thomas
No... I was trying to say what you said, so much better than I. I'm saying all mimicry is evolutionary mimicry... but people (not so much here, as other places I post, as a 'science officer) seem to think that it's cognitive mimicry... as in "How do they know to do that?"

That snakes 'think' in a similar fashion to us, is the myth that seems to resist debunking, given our penchant to anthropomorphise.
I don't think anyone here actually believes that about snakes. Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary, and performed without any cognitive understanding on part of the animal. All they know is that it helps them survive.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 5:22 pm

How to know if a trait is mimicry or just a pattern type or behavior that helps both to survive?

Could venom have more of a psychological deterrent value to us than to other animals?

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 8th, 2015, 5:52 pm

mtratcliffe wrote: I don't think anyone here actually believes that about snakes. Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary, and performed without any cognitive understanding on part of the animal. All they know is that it helps them survive.
No offense intended... but there it is... the insidious habit of granting snakes the power of conscious thought. they are not capable of 'thinking' 'That helped me survive" as 'me' implies a theory of mind... and that's just the point... They DON'T know it helped them survive... they just survived.
Snakes react to changing conditions and stimuli and don't have the cognitive ability to consider even their own existance. I'd also go so far as to say they have no concept of 'time' and react to circadian rythems and inate perogitives. :thumb:

Again... I was talking about this on the facebook page where I'm a science officer... and dealing with the largely uneducated (about herps) masses... most of whom anthromorphicize constantly. I know most folks here don't do that... but... the subject did come up, so.... :crazyeyes:

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 6:20 pm

Because we do attach strong meaning to the one with venom, it becomes the dominant subject of the paradigm, and assume the non venomous is the lesser imitator.

The list of rattlesnake predators is long. The novel hyperbole of rattle development on an already vibrating under threat tail, could it be just another adaptation out of inherent snake vulnerability?

Aren't rattlesnakes among the most recently evolved snakes?

That Pits developed a mimicry of a snake that appeared after seems rife with incongruity.

FrogO_Oeyes
Posts: 60
Joined: February 4th, 2013, 7:43 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by FrogO_Oeyes » June 8th, 2015, 8:11 pm

Perhaps it has little or nothing to do directly with rattlesnakes, and maybe the reverse? Many snakes vibrate their tails, causing a buzz among grasses and dead leaves. Resemblance to sympatric rattlers [where they occur] is simply a bonus and secondary advantage, not the primary one. For rattlers, the evolution of a rattle is also probably secondary - a way to improve the already-existing tail vibration behavior shared with other snakes.

Where color patterning is concerned, humans are really not a great benchmark, as many species not only have color [and stereo] vision, but better such than ours. Primates, if memory serves, are the only mammals with color vision. Just about everything else non-mammalian that I can think of has color vision, and can hypothetically recognize snake patterns which are color-based.

mwentz
Posts: 152
Joined: December 8th, 2012, 3:06 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by mwentz » June 8th, 2015, 8:23 pm

Not being an expert in crotes (or anything really), but on the pacfic island(s?) that have rattlesnakes that lost thier rattles, do the other snakes there rattle thier tail? How about in the areas with species that have considerably smaller rattles?

thanks, matt

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 8th, 2015, 8:30 pm

FrogO_Oeyes wrote:Perhaps it has little or nothing to do directly with rattlesnakes, and maybe the reverse? Many snakes vibrate their tails, causing a buzz among grasses and dead leaves. Resemblance to sympatric rattlers [where they occur] is simply a bonus and secondary advantage, not the primary one. For rattlers, the evolution of a rattle is also probably secondary - a way to improve the already-existing tail vibration behavior shared with other snakes.

Where color patterning is concerned, humans are really not a great benchmark, as many species not only have color [and stereo] vision, but better such than ours. Primates, if memory serves, are the only mammals with color vision. Just about everything else non-mammalian that I can think of has color vision, and can hypothetically recognize snake patterns which are color-based.

Yeah . The times I've had pythons vibrate their tails, and other snakes, are too numerous to count.

Almost every species that ever went to strike me has coiled up in an S. And I've even seen baby corns flatten their head out.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 9th, 2015, 7:02 am

There is a point made that's been ignored, about the core of the whole question.

which is how humans have made some traits, behaviors and animals [snakes] iconic - and assumes the same formulaic responses and intensities of reaction that we have, on to other animals.

A brief look at some articles this morning suggested more complex relationships and varied reactions by regularly encountered taxa - including avoidance by bears of both Rat Snakes and Rattlesnakes and stronger reactions to anal scent gland secretions of natricine species over all, by bears , but not felids or canids.

Other material about ground squirrels describes throwing dirt behavior on rattlesnakes.

It was suggested that rattlesnakes rattle to avoid being stepped on and reduce venom expense.

User avatar
klawnskale
Posts: 1211
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:09 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by klawnskale » June 9th, 2015, 3:26 pm

To make a sweeping generalization that reptiles (in this case snakes) are incapable of cognitive behavior is from a scientific standpoint being rather presumptuous and judgmental. Here is an interesting scientific study done in Europe on this very bone of contention. Granted the study subject was
red footed tortoises and not snakes, this species was specifically selected because it is NOT social (since the development of cognitive behaviors are often associated with social interaction of conspecifics ). I think that Kelly will find this paper to be particularly poignant and fascinating:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tho ... l-reptile/

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 9th, 2015, 4:39 pm

I very much agree with the above as Klawnskale stated, and yes thank you very much for the Red Foot study!

dthor68
Posts: 291
Joined: July 26th, 2010, 12:26 pm
Location: South Carolina
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by dthor68 » June 9th, 2015, 7:01 pm

So who is mimicking who? I call BS on the whole mimic theory in General, other than eye spots and fake heads. I think the whole idea in surviving an attack is to make yourself look bigger, badder and louder! Nearly every snake over 18" in the U.S. vibrates its tail. Nearly every snake flattens its body or inflates itself to look bigger, including Rattlesnakes. Every snake defecates and emits a foul smelling musk, including Rattlesnakes. There is only so much that an animal with no arms and legs can do and they will do all they can to survive. The Rattlesnake has gone one step further with the rattle itself. All that tells me is that the Rattlesnake is the MOST adapted of the snakes. There is no one on this planet that could ever have me believe the mimic theory, other than eye spots and fake heads. That goes for Milk Snake/Coral snake mimic theory too!

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 9th, 2015, 7:37 pm

klawnskale wrote:To make a sweeping generalization that reptiles (in this case snakes) are incapable of cognitive behavior is from a scientific standpoint being rather presumptuous and judgmental.
My qualified claims arise from my degree in neuropysiology, so I neither presume nor judge... just reporting what 4 years at a University taught me... and I did qualify my postion by stating examples of higher (abstract) thought, where none was imagined to be able to exist are being reported more and more all the time... but mostly in mammals and birds... reptiles... not so much. Reptiles have what can only be described as rather 'basic' neural structure... and very little in the way of a cerebral cortex... the seat of higher thought. :|

User avatar
klawnskale
Posts: 1211
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:09 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by klawnskale » June 9th, 2015, 8:21 pm

hellihooks wrote:
klawnskale wrote:To make a sweeping generalization that reptiles (in this case snakes) are incapable of cognitive behavior is from a scientific standpoint being rather presumptuous and judgmental.
My qualified claims arise from my degree in neuropysiology, so I neither presume nor judge... just reporting what 4 years at a University taught me... and I did qualify my postion by stating examples of higher (abstract) thought, where none was imagined to be able to exist are being reported more and more all the time... but mostly in mammals and birds... reptiles... not so much. Reptiles have what can only be described as rather 'basic' neural structure... and very little in the way of a cerebral cortex... the seat of higher thought. :|
I would suggest reading more recent citations of ground breaking research done by individuals such as Melissa Amarillo. There has been a keen interest in studying cognitive intelligence in species that humans have long taken for granted that do not have these capabilities. We are only beginning to understand the capabilities of the reptilian brain. Research is starting to reveal that is not just relying on the limbic system. For too long humans have been presumptuous because other classes of animals express intelligence within a context not readily recognizable to our expectations. Even Harry Greene is beginning to affirm this. Get with the program and read some papers!

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 9th, 2015, 8:22 pm

Neurophysiology is a rapidly developing field, as evidenced by dated info regarding frontal cortex exclusivity in cognition and small comments say, about mammalian play grins, which were a couple decades ago, thought to be expressions fear and submission but aren't anymore.

The times they are-a changin !

User avatar
Noah M
Posts: 2289
Joined: November 3rd, 2012, 6:00 pm
Location: Gainesville, FL
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Noah M » June 9th, 2015, 8:26 pm

hellihooks wrote:
mtratcliffe wrote: I don't think anyone here actually believes that about snakes. Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary, and performed without any cognitive understanding on part of the animal. All they know is that it helps them survive.
No offense intended... but there it is... the insidious habit of granting snakes the power of conscious thought. they are not capable of 'thinking' 'That helped me survive" as 'me' implies a theory of mind... and that's just the point... They DON'T know it helped them survive... they just survived.
Snakes react to changing conditions and stimuli and don't have the cognitive ability to consider even their own existance. I'd also go so far as to say they have no concept of 'time' and react to circadian rythems and inate perogitives. :thumb:

Again... I was talking about this on the facebook page where I'm a science officer... and dealing with the largely uneducated (about herps) masses... most of whom anthromorphicize constantly. I know most folks here don't do that... but... the subject did come up, so.... :crazyeyes:
I'm pretty sure this is a break down in communication. I'm 100% sure Matt doesn't think the snakes consciously know it helps them survive. I think his point was that, animals that do a certain thing or look a certain way are more likely to survive. He says it when he writes, "Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary", as are most of the traits and behaviors we've been talking about.

The question is how do we define "mimicry". As far as I read the word, it simply means when one creature looks like and/or behaves like another for some possible evolutionary gain. As in, it does not include convergent evolution.

Since this discussion, and the words used to describe these phenomena, are human created, we'll have to be careful that we're not seeing stuff because of our anthropocentric viewpoint.

User avatar
mtratcliffe
Posts: 533
Joined: January 19th, 2014, 4:34 pm
Location: Springfield, VA

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by mtratcliffe » June 10th, 2015, 2:04 am

captainjack0000 wrote:
hellihooks wrote:
mtratcliffe wrote: I don't think anyone here actually believes that about snakes. Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary, and performed without any cognitive understanding on part of the animal. All they know is that it helps them survive.
No offense intended... but there it is... the insidious habit of granting snakes the power of conscious thought. they are not capable of 'thinking' 'That helped me survive" as 'me' implies a theory of mind... and that's just the point... They DON'T know it helped them survive... they just survived.
Snakes react to changing conditions and stimuli and don't have the cognitive ability to consider even their own existance. I'd also go so far as to say they have no concept of 'time' and react to circadian rythems and inate perogitives. :thumb:

Again... I was talking about this on the facebook page where I'm a science officer... and dealing with the largely uneducated (about herps) masses... most of whom anthromorphicize constantly. I know most folks here don't do that... but... the subject did come up, so.... :crazyeyes:
I'm pretty sure this is a break down in communication. I'm 100% sure Matt doesn't think the snakes consciously know it helps them survive. I think his point was that, animals that do a certain thing or look a certain way are more likely to survive. He says it when he writes, "Mimicry is absolutely evolutionary", as are most of the traits and behaviors we've been talking about.

The question is how do we define "mimicry". As far as I read the word, it simply means when one creature looks like and/or behaves like another for some possible evolutionary gain. As in, it does not include convergent evolution.

Since this discussion, and the words used to describe these phenomena, are human created, we'll have to be careful that we're not seeing stuff because of our anthropocentric viewpoint.
Thank you, Noah. I feel like we are going in circles with this discussion. When I say the word "know", I don't mean it in the way a human learns something and remembers it. It is purely instinctual for them. But they do "know" to engage in certain behaviors when certain situations arise. Otherwise, they wouldn't be doing so.

If we can all agree that mimicry is an evolution process built over untold generations, and not the result of one snake observing another, then we should stop talking in circles here. I really don't see where the point of contention is.

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by hellihooks » June 10th, 2015, 5:27 am

As I said before, no offense intended... and my point was/is to highlight how easily the 'human centric' bias can slip in, and the need for clear and perpiscuious language when describing animal behavior.

I KNOW what you meant when you said 'know', as would have bout everyone else HERE... but when talking to the 'general public'... they don't... and walk away with the notion that snakes think like us, have an emotional life like us, etc.

I've been 'teaching' about reptiles literally for decades... and IMO... this is the misconception about reptiles that is the hardest to dispel: "My snake would NEVER bite me... He LOVES me!" :roll: :beer:

AND... that gopher snakes actively and consciously 'mimic' rattlesnakes... :roll:

User avatar
klawnskale
Posts: 1211
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:09 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by klawnskale » June 10th, 2015, 6:58 am

Here is a condensed article citing some of the interesting studies done by Greene, et al revealing some of the more elaborate behaviors exhibited by rattlesnakes and other snake species during partuition. Are these behaviors the product of a limbic brain? You decide…

http://www.phschool.com/science/science ... nakes.html

User avatar
Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1217
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Bryan Hamilton » June 10th, 2015, 7:51 am

I'm not ready to completely embrace the idea of rattlesnakes as nurturing, loving, caring mothers. A lot of Greene's work on parental care is anecdotal. To me its more of a paradigm shift than a detailed look rattlesnake societies.

I have completely shifted how I think about social structure and culture in rattlesnakes and animals in general. Its there and I can see it when I take the time to look. Its a big part of their biology and Greene's work and others like Amarello have been a big part of that.

There are also a lot of folks on this forum that push the importance of keeping rattlesnake societies intact. Brendan, correcamino, jason hull, riley campbell have long been advocating a hands off approach with rattlesnakes to avoid disrupting those social ties.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 10th, 2015, 8:19 am

I really enjoyed reading about the rattlesnakes. The behaviors of snakes I believe will be revealed to be full of discreet and fascinating surprises.

Its the acuity of snakes that are at the height of my curiousity - and I use the term Acuity to mean in diverse gamut of interior interactions with the earth around them, I can think of no other animal that lives in so constant and exquisite intimacy with their immediate reality.

This is why I cant help but find some forms of assumed [evolved] mimicry of danger to be such a broad brushed and human value-limited perspective of their features.

User avatar
Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1217
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Bryan Hamilton » June 10th, 2015, 10:37 am

I don't necessarily think these social systems are limited to rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are pretty easy to study. They are on the surface alot, they are big enough to carry radio transmitters, and they have importance to management for a variety of reasons.

The more we look, the more we find.

Also mimicry of coral snakes by colubrids is pretty well established. This was controversial 20 years ago but its pretty well accepted now. There are plenty of holes but its a pretty tight system overall.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4314
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: I've seen it, you seen it ... we've all seen...

Post by Kelly Mc » June 10th, 2015, 10:59 am

I think I will buy into the coral mimicry when there is more data on the effect of contrast and pattern in motion and non motion, in the vision and responses of other animals.

Kinetic effects and pattern have been studied with lizards, especially by some European herpetologists focused on insular lacertid species, which as we know insular studies have been used as helpful evolutionary model

Post Reply