Research of the University of Jyväskylä demonstrates that the characteristic zig-zag pattern on a viper’s back performs opposing functions during a predation event. At first, the zig-zag pattern helps the snake remain undetected. But upon exposure, it provides a conspicuous warning of the snake’s dangerous defense. Most importantly the zig-zag can also produce an illusionary effect that may hide the snake’s movement as it flees. The research was published in Animal Behaviour in May 2020.
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