Lynne Isbell with the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis and colleagues from the University of Toyama in Japan and the University of Brasília in Brazil have identified the neurological and physiological loci of primate's ability to recognize snakes even in cover faster than other animals. The research was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 28, 2013.
The researchers analyzed the responses of one male and one female macaque monkey to images of snakes, monkey faces, monkey hands, and geometric objects with three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging.
More pulvinar neurons were found to react to images of snakes at a faster rate than to any other images.
The researchers contend that these experiments indicate an evolutionary development of the ability to see snakes in primates, early human ancestors, and in humans. This is the first physiological evidence that snakes influenced the development of visual abilities in primates and in man.