Snake Infrared Receptors: Thermal or Photochemical Mechanism?

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Science  18 Jun 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3989, pp. 1252-1253
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3989.1252


It appears that the two most sensitive infrared receptors known in the biological world are found in two widely different families of snakes, the pit vipers and the boas. After an infrared stimulus from a carbon dioxide laser, which has a monochromatic output at 10.6 micrometers, we find evoked potentials in boas with chronically implanted electrodes. Our data suggest that the receptors operate on a thermal principle.