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Miscellaneous Corn Snake Discussions This is a "none of the above" forum. All posts should still be related to cornsnakes in one form or another, but some slight off topic posting is fine.

Myth or Fact: Snakes unhinging their jaw
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Old 06-26-2008, 11:01 AM   #1
v_various
Myth or Fact: Snakes unhinging their jaw

I see it posted here sometimes that snakes unhinge their jaw. I've always been told that's a myth - and I'm not making any claim to know what I'm talking about, but what's up with that? There are plenty of sites that say either they DO or DON'T unhinge, so, why the confusion? I could list for days new articles that reference the "snakes ability to unhinge their jaw" But I don't come across too many scientific sources or diagrams. Do people just assume? What do you guys think, any scientific evidence that snakes unhinge? Any opinions on the matter?

Here's what I could find on the 'don't unhinge' side of things:
don't unhinge1 (pieced together from I a book I have)
don't unhinge2
don'd unhinge3 (the best diagram, imo)

Sources saying they DO unhinge:
unhinge1
unhinge2
uhinge3

So, is it accepted science now-a-days that they don't unhinge, or is there still some debate?
 
Old 06-26-2008, 11:23 AM   #2
snakewispera snr
I hate the words Unhinge...It's trying to dicribe what a snake does in relation to our jaw setup...This is the best of the six you put up to show what happens..
uhinge3

They have an extra bone in the jaw and the lower jaw isn't fused in the front....
 
Old 06-26-2008, 11:34 AM   #3
v_various
well yes, but that's my point. It physically doesn't unhinge, it's just flexible with a ligament connecting the two halves of the lower jaw in the 'chin' area. Saying "unhinge" is like saying you're double jointed when really all you can do is bend your finger back really far.
 
Old 06-26-2008, 11:37 AM   #4
Weebonilass
I think they can unhinge them... when Gailleann hit the glass of her tank really hard when I first got it, she knocked it crooked (her jaw that is). I was concerned, but it didn't take her long to work it back into place.

So it's not just up and down, but sideways also.
 
Old 06-26-2008, 11:51 AM   #5
snakewispera snr
The way I show people who ask is this way
First I hold my elbows tight into my sides with my hands in the preying position tight to my chest......Then I move my hands up/down, form the elbow, to represent our jaw moving..... Then I extend my arms right out to represent the 'Other' bone coming into play....Then I move my hands apart and work them like a snake does when it eats....I find that way explains what is happening, and shows nothing is unhinging.....
 
Old 06-26-2008, 11:53 AM   #6
Voodoo
I don't believe they unhinge their jaws. It's just that their jaw is designed to be able to stretch to accommodate swallowing whole prey items....so it's more of a stretch than an unhinge.
 
Old 06-26-2008, 01:21 PM   #7
v_various
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weebonilass View Post
I think they can unhinge them... when Gailleann hit the glass of her tank really hard when I first got it, she knocked it crooked (her jaw that is). I was concerned, but it didn't take her long to work it back into place.

So it's not just up and down, but sideways also.
They don't physically come apart, it's just really flexible, even from side to side.

I think that's were the myth comes from, it really does look like they unhinge, due to how flexible they are. But there is no scientific evidence things come unhooked, and it can be clearly illustrated how they open so wide and still stay connected by looking at their skulls (look at the diagrams)
 
Old 06-26-2008, 01:38 PM   #8
Corny Noob
I guess I learn something every day.
I've always seen it stated as them being able to unhinge their jaws to swallow abnormally large prey.
I could have sworn I heard such things toted on the discovery channel.
 
Old 06-26-2008, 02:42 PM   #9
v_various
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corny Noob View Post
I guess I learn something every day.
I've always seen it stated as them being able to unhinge their jaws to swallow abnormally large prey.
I could have sworn I heard such things toted on the discovery channel.
I believe it, I've seen it published on official web sites, in books, and everywhere else. I just don't understand why it's such a popular myth, there's plenty of proof they don't do it and none that they do : /
 
Old 06-26-2008, 04:24 PM   #10
tom e
Quote:
Originally Posted by snakewispera snr View Post
The way I show people who ask is this way
First I hold my elbows tight into my sides with my hands in the preying position tight to my chest......Then I move my hands up/down, form the elbow, to represent our jaw moving..... Then I extend my arms right out to represent the 'Other' bone coming into play....Then I move my hands apart and work them like a snake does when it eats....I find that way explains what is happening, and shows nothing is unhinging.....
I won't make any claims to know if you're right or not Mike, but kudos for your explaination. Thats a very effective visualization.

Maybe the Discovery Channel (and the rest) just feel it's more important to get the point accross that they do something fascinating and alien to us with their jaws. Our jaws are fused in the front and connected tightly to the back, unhinged is not too far off from what Mike is describing at the back on the jaw, if it was a human jaw..

I still get cranky about the constriction descriptions I still see where the bones are crushed, or the air is squeezed out.

I've fed live before, and seen mice die in about 8 seconds. Do we really believe mice can't hold their breath 8 seconds?
 

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