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.

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