Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature
© University of California Press, 1997

Harry W. Greene


book cover


22 January 2003 |

We often regard our own natural functions with ignorance and shame, but snakes are overt tubes and thus expose the profound role of peristalsis in everyday life; they overpower and swallow other animals intact, sometimes passing prey into the stomach as visibly struggling lumps. Snakes are sinuous, supple eroticism exaggerated by paired, intricately ornamented sex organs. Their social behavior relies largely on tactile and chemical signals; itís as if I were blindfolded in an Andean marketplace yet able to distinguish dozens of friends amidst overripe fruit, roasting corn, urine in the gutters, and a seething mass of damp wool ponchos.


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