CNN: How pythons can devour enormous prey

Burmese pythons can swallow prey much bigger than their heads, UC study finds

CNN highlighted research by the University of Cincinnati that examined how Burmese pythons swallow prey far bigger than their heads.

UC College of Arts and Sciences professor Bruce Jayne examined the gape of Burmese pythons, which have invaded parts of Florida where they have found a smorgasbord of prey choices.

Bruce Jayne holds up a Burmese python with a cylinder in its mouth depicting its enormous dinner-plate sized gape.

UC biologist Bruce Jayne demonstrates the enormous gape of a euthanized Burmese python captured in the Everglades. Photo/Bruce Jayne

Jayne and his co-authors found that it’s not just the size of the snake's head and body that puts almost everything on a python’s menu. They evolved super-stretchy skin between their lower jaws that allows them to consume prey up to six times larger than similarly sized snakes.

The study, funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was published in the journal Integrative Organismal Biology.

“One common misunderstanding is that snakes dislocate their jaws to swallow prey,” Jayne told CNN.

But Jayne said unlike our jaws, those of pythons and other snakes are comprised of two bones separated by stretchy skin.

“The stretchy skin between left and right lower jaws is radically different in pythons. Just over 40 percent of their total gape area on average is from stretchy skin,” Jayne said. “Even after you correct for their large heads, their gape is enormous.”

Read the CNN story.

Featured image at top: Ian Bartoszek, right, science project manager for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, captures a 215-pound Burmese python in Everglades National Park. Photo/ Conservancy of Southwest Florida

UC Biology in the News

Related Stories


UC to host symposium on socially just community research

Event: March 5, 2021 9:30 AM

On Friday, March 5, The Cincinnati Project (TCP) will host its seventh-annual symposium titled “The Art and Science of Socially Just Community Partnered Research,” sponsored by UC’s College of Arts and Sciences and The Taft Research Center. Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) Mohan Dutta will deliver the keynote speech. Based in New Zealand, CARE is a global organization dedicated to developing community-based solutions for social change, advocacy and activism, inspired by the conviction that health is a human right. Founded in 2016, TCP unites researchers from UC’s College of Arts and Sciences with community partners to benefit marginalized communities in Cincinnati, tackling economic, race, gender and health issues. Past TCP research has focused on high eviction rates in Hamilton County, resulting in city legislation to protect the rights of renters through an eviction prevention plan. In addition to the keynote speaker, the symposium will include discussion panels from area organizations such as Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, the Center for Closing the Health Gap, and UC faculty researchers. Topics will include ways in which community-based research can be conducted in socially just ways, in order to benefit the communities it is designed to serve. The symposium will be held virtually via Zoom from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, please visit The Cincinnati Project.


UC student body leaders use platform to empower others

October 28, 2021

University of Cincinnati student body leaders have taken on a full slate of undergraduate activities, including classes, studies, Bearcats games and leading student government for UC. Elected as president and vice president earlier this semester, the students set to work delivering on their platform of diversity and inclusion, sustainability, campus spirit, mental health and accessibility.  Initiatives so far include a Mental Health Advocacy Week, a career-ready clothing drive and civil discourse training.

Debug Query for this