Tag Archives: Convergence

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Hydrodynamic constraints and evolution of aquatic snakes

snakesDoes aquatic foraging impact head shape evolution in snakes ?
M. Segall, R. Cornette, A-C. Fabre, R. Godoy-Diana & A. Herrel
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283 20161645 (2016).
[doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.1645] PDF file

Evolutionary trajectories are often biased by developmental and historical factors. However, environmental factors can also impose constraints on the evolutionary trajectories of organisms leading to convergence of morphology in similar ecological contexts. The physical properties of water impose strong constraints on aquatic feeding animals by generating pressure waves that can alert prey and potentially push them away from the mouth. These hydrodynamic constraints have resulted in the independent evolution of suction feeding in most groups of secondarily aquatic tetrapods. Despite the fact that snakes cannot use suction, they have invaded the aquatic milieu many times independently. Here, we test whether the aquatic environment has constrained head read more »