A group of researchers found that the blue bandaged sea snake (Hydrophis cyanocinctus) uses a complex blood vessel system placed on top of the head to absorb oxygen from the surrounding water when it is immersed. That is a discovery that surprised the researchers themselves.
It is a modified cephalic vascular network (MCVN) that provides an amount of oxygen to the brain that can be considered as complementary during the dive, as Alessandro Palci, an evolutionary researcher at the University of Flinders visiting the University of Alberta, Canada, specifies.
“Basically we have discovered that this sea snake uses the top of its head as a gill to breathe underwater,” reports the researcher to be even clearer. The Hydrophis cyanocinctus is a poisonous snake that lives in the warm tropical waters near the coasts of the Southeast Asia region.
It is not a system that allows snakes to breathe completely underwater: sooner or later they must re-emerge to breathe in the amount of oxygen needed by the brain. What they can get from the water is only a complementary part to allow the snakes to stay a little longer immersed.
However, among the vertebrates breathing from the air, this species of snake can be considered as one of the most “aquatic” in absolute.
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