Research by scientists from the UK showed that snakes began to adapt their vision to water 15 million years ago. Such a rapid change allowed them to hunt even in an unusual habitat.
According to a new study, sea snakes first entered the marine environment 15 million years ago and have since adapted to survive in ever-changing lighting conditions. A study led by scientists from the University of Plymouth in the UK, for the first time, revealed data on how the vision of snakes changed in order to see underwater.
Scientists note that the vision of sea snakes has genetically changed over millions of years, allowing them to adapt to new conditions. First of all, this was necessary in order to see prey even deep beneath the surface of the sea. A study published in Current Biology also suggests that sea snakes are not physiologically similar to other snakes or marine mammals but to primates.
“In the natural world, species must adapt as their environment changes. But to observe such rapid changes in the vision of sea snakes is truly amazing. The speed of diversification of species of sea snakes compared to their terrestrial counterparts may be a demonstration of the extremely complex habitat they live in and the fact that they need to continue to adapt in order to survive, ”the scientists noted.
During the study, scientists analyzed various species of land and sea snakes from Asia and Australia. They investigated the evolution of spectral sensitivity in elapids by analyzing their opsin genes (which produce visual pigments responsible for sensitivity to ultraviolet and visible light) and retinal photoreceptors.