Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature

Can you guess what this is? If you do, tell us one interesting fact about it or share your thoughts (try not to give the game away)!

Here’s one: This creature can detect infrared (thermal) radiation through heat sensitive ion channels that trigger firing of nerve fibers with accuracy >0.001 °C.



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146 Responses to Patterns in Nature

  1. Rajini Rao says:

    J Stasko , not human 🙂

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    P.S. We do have thermal sensors but no where as sensitive as this creature’s. For example, we sense cold (triggered by low temp and menthols) and heat (high temp and capsaicin/peppers).

  3. J Stasko says:

    Drats!  I was thinking tongue , taste bud. 

      But some quick checks on the net showed that wasn’t right, anyway.

  4. Itssss pretty green, that’sss for sssure.  I’m wondering if you might find this up a tree in Australia? 🙂

  5. Jim Philips says:

    Pit vipers can do that.

  6. Rajini Rao says:

    Christopher Butler , yesSSS!

  7. J Stasko says:

    Is the color true in this image?

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    J Stasko , true color, yes. The species name is viridis which means green. Interestingly, the young are different colors: brick red and yellow, but change to green as young adults.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    Jim Philips , that’s right. Wiki tells me that this adaptation arose once in pit vipers.

  10. E.E. Giorgi says:

    wow, what an awesome shot!!!!

  11. snake giving birth?

  12. no:  snake eyeball.

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Lou Farris , good guess (similar but not that).

    Aria L , they do forage for food at night. They also have an interesting trick to hunt..they stay still but dangle their tail to attract curious prey.

    E.E. Giorgi , gorgeous, indeed! Not mine of course, I’ll put the source in later.

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Eyeball is correct, Pookaru .Stlou, thanks for playing 🙂 Notice that the pupil is vertical.

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Aria L , I had to look this up. Apparently not venomous. They give a great squeeze instead 🙂

     Jihun Kim , beautiful the different overlapping patterns.

  16. Rajini Rao says:

    Aria L , LOL, you are making me do some Googling! I’ll take your word for it. You reminded me of a debate topic from my school days: the female of the species is deadlier than the male 🙂

    I did find this fascinating fact about the eggs: “The female wraps her body around them  and uses muscular shivers as a means of keeping or even increasing her body temperature, thus producing and keeping an incubation temperature of 29,5 o Celsius. If the temperature is too high she loosens the body loops”.

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, that’s right Vasudevan Tirumurti , thank you! Not quite like a chameleon does, but they do change color with age. They can turn blue for example.

  18. Ciro Villa says:

    It might be a Pangolin…but I am not positive..

    Blah guess (no coffee yet)… :-/

  19. I’d definitely go with snake, but my initial thought was pit viper based on the heat sensitive comment.  If it’s a constrictor, then maybe green tree snake.  I find the scales actually more interesting than the eye in the photo.  

    Here’s some interesting trivia about scales.  A long time ago I worked at a pet shop that imported wild-caught pythons.  My first task was to soak them in warm water and use tweezers to remove all the ticks that were embedded underneath the scales.  

  20. Ciro Villa says:

    Rajini Rao  Sorry, discard Pangolin, stupid guess….got tricked by the scales; now I saw your comment and it makes sense 😉

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    Wow, a pangolin would be cool to photograph Ciro Villa . This isn’t one, though.

    Good guesSSS, Shannan Muskopf . Thanks for the fascinating fact about ticks under scales. Did you hear how Burmese pythons have taken over the Florida Everglades? I heard a news story about threats to the local bird life.

    Heat sensing in snakes arose independently in pit vipers, boas and pythons.

  22. Shannan Muskopf Yeah, I’m thinking this little guy is more squeezy than bitey. 🙂

  23. Rajini Rao says:

    Here’s what I found: All snakes descended from venomous ancestors. So it turns out that even the so-called non venomous snakes produce toxins in smaller amounts. They’ve been down-regulated in pythons because they use constriction as an alternative method of killing prey.

  24. Rajini Rao This makes me wonder what the earliest known venom producing organism might have been.  Or if there was an early precursor to mammals that produced venom?  🙂

  25. Rajini Rao says:

    Correct, Ciro Villa ! Here it is in the characteristic resting position: head snuggled in the center of saddle shaped folds, firmly wrapped around a tree branch:

  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Christopher Butler , you may be sorry you asked …there’s a huge amount of research on the evolution of venom. This is a good overview:

  27. Rajini Rao Bookmarked!  Thank you 🙂

  28. Rajini Rao says:

    Senthil Gangavaram , that is a very interesting guess! It’s not a bitter gourd, but I can see the similarities 🙂

  29. Rajini Rao says:

    Tom Collins , gecko belongs to the same Order (Squamata) but to a different family of reptile as this one 🙂

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Interesting choice, Greg Peterson , because the emerald tree boa shows striking convergent evolution in resembling this creature!

  31. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, Ben Graham 🙂 Know any curious facts about it?

  32. Rajini Rao says:

    Half your answer is correct, raven kelley 😉

  33. Rajini Rao says:

    Hmm…green definitely, not a mamba, though.

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    Not a vine snake, Sumeet Sharma , but it is found on trees.

    Arneïs Bohémond , that’s a new one, thank you!

  35. Yonas Kidane says:

    An excellent thread to wake up to with some coffee on a Saturday morning.  Thank you for that.

  36. Satyr Icon says:

    The first thing I thought, what kind of vegetation leaves are they?

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m glad that reptilian eye did not put you off your coffee, Yonas Kidane . I think it’s quite beautiful, although we did have a black rat snake visit the garden yesterday and I’m sorry to report that I ran away 🙂

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Satyr Icon , the overlapping scales could be from a succulent plant. Further up in the comments someone suggested a bitter gourd (melon).

  39. Satyr Icon says:

    Rajini Rao I’m sorry I didn’t read all the comments. Catching up to a gazillion posts. But am I right in assuming it’s some kind of alligator (can’t be croc methinks)? And it must be fairly young. I’m assuming older ones have darker green scales. Though now come to think of it, it could be a snake too.

  40. Rajini Rao says:

    Not an alligator or croc. You’re getting there 🙂

  41. Rajni, I am done with all my knowledge of  reptiles but just now when I asked my daughter what does she think about this picture? She said, it looks like Matilda horned Viper.

  42. Rajini Rao says:

    Balvinder Ubi , I’d not heard of the Matilda horned viper and learned that it is a new species named after a 7 year old girl! Please thank your daughter for playing and show her this link:

  43. My daughter is staring, why I wrote? She said the viper was named after a girl named Matilda because she loved playing with it. My God, these kids make fool of their parents.

  44. Scott Elyard says:

    The lack of eyelids give it away.

  45. Rajini Rao says:

    Every generation is a little bit smarter than the one before. Thankfully, Balvinder Ubi  😉

  46. kelly melvin says:

    Is it a baseball? Perhaps it’s a landstrom 17″ gangley wrench.

  47. Rajini Rao says:

    Let’s ask Mr. Steve Martin, kelly melvin 😉

  48. Rajini Rao says:

    As in Boa constrictor, Nebula Night ? 

  49. Rajini Rao says:

    +100 Nadia Borg 🙂

  50. I think it is the eye of a very dangerous snake. BTW, I was bitted by a snake which was just cutted by the neck by a friend of mine. I tried to catch the rest of the body and the head of the snake  bit me. I felt something like a sudden puncture of a needle, and took away my hand in a very fast reflex. The bit hit a bone of my hand, and just could make little harm. But then I fight 3 days against a very possible death.

    Very nice picture.

  51. Sunil Bajpai says:

    Rajini Rao Good fun, especially the comments and your reactions!

    As soon as the post went up yesterday, I cheated by doing a Google image search and found Rest is easy. 

  52. Green viper….beautiful killer

  53. Sammy Berko says:

    Dangerous and poisonous ..!

  54. I didn’t think snakes had overlapping scales like this, so maybe it’s not a snake, or maybe I’m wrong about overlapping scales. No googling here… 🙂

  55. Rajini Rao says:

    Jyoti Dahiya , it turns out that snakes do have overlapping scales, but more interestingly, the number of scales they are born with stays constant..only their size increases with the moults.

  56. Amber Peall says:

    Some scales are also heavily modified for a variety of unique skills, such as better sun absorption, or light deflection to such an extreme that they develop “superblack”:

  57. Hehe I know but I am not gonna tell 🙂

  58. Rajini Rao says:

    Amber Petchey that is fascinating info on the microstructure of scales, who knew? I’d read about butterfly scales and their iridescent properties, but not of snakes. Thanks!

  59. Amber Peall says:

    It’s a fairly recent discovery I understand – they’re using the unique structures and replicating them in carbon nanofibres to make better solar panels! 😀

  60. Well! Interesting things about snake scales. Live and learn. 🙂

  61. Amber Peall says:

    If you’re not learning, you’re not living! 🙂

    I particularly like vipers, such as rattlesnakes, because they have a very cool trick. Most people know snakes can separate and use both sides of the bottom jaw independently – but vipers can also fold away their fangs and move them independently too.

    The teeth hinge outward from lying tucked against the upper jaw and the connective bone rotates and locks – like “arming” a weapon.


    It is rare to be bitten by a snake. Few snakes would risk attacking such a large animal as a human, but most humans aren’t paying close enough attention to the very blatant warnings the snake provides.

  62. Rajini Rao says:

    Amber Petchey , I didn’t know that either! You should do a post on the curious biological adaptations of snakes…we G+ folks would love it 🙂

  63. Moar, Amber Petchey !

  64. Rajini Rao says:

    I’m glad to hear that snakes are typically shy. We get black rat snakes (I think, I’m not an expert) in our garden. My husband picks them up with a long stick and carries them to the edge of the woods. I don’t stay to watch, I confess.

  65. Amber Peall says:

    Reptiles in general I adore. Snakes though, they’re sneaky. Never trust a snake, even if it is one you know well. They get funny sometimes.

    Slightly related, a cat puts its ears back, squints, bares its teeth and hisses because it wants you to think it is as dangerous as a snake.

    They’ve also learned to modulate their vocal patterns to manipulate human maternal instinct, by using the shrill undertones similar to that of a small child in distress.

    Cats are sneaky too.

    Oh, and a large tube tied into the mouth of a pillowcase is a effective snake trap. Be careful how you pick the “bag” up, some can bite through cloth – though it is by far a more secure way to move a snake.

  66. Rajini Rao says:

    Good try, but no Asanka Buwaneka 🙂

  67. Ameya Sawant says:

    It’s Rattle Snake…..

  68. Yes, Rajini. And I think that adding to its amazing ability to detec infrared, it has a very good sense of noise, which can  motivate it to atack. Specially when the noise is human voice. First rule in the jungle: Do not speak. 

  69. Murali Adari says:

    Going by the scales it looks like some lizard. Modern camera shots in HD can play very interesting tricks on ones perception though!

  70. Rajini Rao says:

    Hint: it’s another animal with scales, Murali Adari .

  71. Murali Adari says:

    Got it and am surprised.Never saw one very close.

  72. Rajini Rao says:

    Neither have I (thankfully). I can admire this virtually 🙂

  73. Reptile, possibly chameleon

  74. Rajini Rao says:

    Andrew Planet , correct on reptile. Not a chameleon, though 🙂

  75. Peying Fong says:

    some sort of snake?

  76. Rajini Rao says:

    Yup, Peying Fong . Astonishing that some people could actually ID this from this image. One alert plusser noted the blue stripe along the eye characteristic of this python.

  77. Ameen Shaikh says:

    I think its snake eye

  78. Rajini Rao says:

    Not the emerald tree boa, David Dhannoo , but another serpent that looks very much like it 🙂

  79. I’m stumped haha……tough one!

  80. Rajini Rao says:

    You were really close:

    David Dhannoo , try the new puzzler I posted yesterday:

  81. Thanks Rajini Rao  amazing shot of the snake isn’t it?!

  82. It looks to me like a reptile species.

  83. Wise Snake says:

    Haha! I remember this post. An Emerald Tree boa (Corallus caninus)

  84. its reptial   …


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  87. Dana Crowe says:

    Hello guess I was right. I hope

  88. Pranav V says:

    eyes of snake…ooooo thats scary

  89. Maile Amar says:

    Its dengurash sneak

  90. Basu Dev says:

    It is obviously a snake

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  92. Very nice pic of snake

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