蛇可以靠感受猎物的红外辐射来确定猎物的位置。这项最新的研究表明，蛇是靠颊窝器（pit organ）来感受并传到温度，而不是靠光化学传导（photochemical transduction）。这项研究也描述了作为脊椎动物热感受器的瞬时受体电位通道（transient receptor potential （TRP））的进化。
参考文献：Nature. 2010 Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]
Molecular basis of infrared detection by snakes.
Gracheva EO, Ingolia NT, Kelly YM, Cordero-Morales JF, Hollopeter G, Chesler AT, Sánchez EE, Perez JC, Weissman JS, Julius D.
 Department of Physiology,  These authors contributed equally to this work.
Snakes possess a unique sensory system for detecting infrared radiation, enabling them to generate a 'thermal image' of predators or prey. Infrared signals are initially received by the pit organ, a highly specialized facial structure that is innervated by nerve fibres of the somatosensory system. How this organ detects and transduces infrared signals into nerve impulses is not known. Here we use an unbiased transcriptional profiling approach to identify TRPA1 channels as infrared receptors on sensory nerve fibres that innervate the pit organ. TRPA1 orthologues from pit-bearing snakes (vipers, pythons and boas) are the most heat-sensitive vertebrate ion channels thus far identified, consistent with their role as primary transducers of infrared stimuli. Thus, snakes detect infrared signals through a mechanism involving radiant heating of the pit organ, rather than photochemical transduction. These findings illustrate the broad evolutionary tuning of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels as thermosensors in the vertebrate nervous system.
PMID: 20228791 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]