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Posted by Will Leary on April 22, 2003 at 10:01:45:
In Reply to: Python Pits, Sight, Sound, Sleep posted by johnv on April 21, 2003 at 21:06:02:
Regarding the heat sensitive labial pits, they are basically just deeply recessed (or modified) scales with a thin membrane at the base. This membrane is clustered with nerve endings that are very sensitive to temperature variations and infra-red radiation. I think Kevin stated it perfectly when he said they can "see" heat. As a crude example, I imagine it is very similar to the way the alien was able to see in the movie "Predator." When considering the pythons vision, I don't think you can separate the eyes from their labial pits (& maybe even the Jacobson's organ, a receptor located in the roof of the mouth that examines particles taken in by tongue flicking), because they function more as a unit than they do independently. And yes, I think the snakes with larger labials have a distinct advantage over other snakes (regarding the level of alertness, etc.).
As far as I know, pythons do not see color (at least in the way we may think of it). Yes, they do have Cones, but only one type (most animals require two types of Cones to see color), and I'm unsure about boas. Regarding hearing, snakes obviously do not have an external ear, but they do pick up vibrations and low frequency sounds thru bones in their jaw. These bones are associated with hearing in other animals as well - the quadrate and the stapes. I think Kevin also answered the question of sleep perfectly, so I don't see any need to address it any further. Hope this helps!
Will Leary <><