Science: An Eye for Heat

Rattlesnakes, and such venomous relatives as copperheads and water moccasins, have in their heads two small organs called "pits." Scientists have long known that the pits are sense organs which respond to heat, but they did not understand clearly how they work. In last week's Science, Drs. Theodore H. Bullock and Raymond B. Cowles of the University of California, Los Angeles, told how they hooked up a rattlesnake's pits and studied their actions as if they were microphones.

Having prudently given the rattlesnake a paralyzing injection of curare, the researchers uncovered one of the nerves leading out of a pit organ and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!