Biologists at the University of Cincinnati wanted to see how much sleepy Burman pits could open their jaws to swallow prey.
Using a series of 3D-printer plastic probes of different sizes, scientists tested the possibilities of different individual pitons. They measured the maximum distance each animal could open its mouth. It turned out that the largest probe was 22 cm in diameter. Only one snake was able to stretch the snake wide enough to contain a giant probe: a python about 59 kg and a length of 4.3 m.
It is widely thought that snakes can dislodge or spread their jaws in order to swallow prey. In fact, an elastic piece of connective tissue extends from a snake's brain box, or skull, to the lower jaw, which allows an animal to eat a giant victim.
"The snakes do not dislodge the joints at all in the process of swallowing the prey," said Live Science Bruce Jane, the leading researcher, a biologist and a professor at Cincinnati University. "But the joints they have between the bones are extremely mobile. Unlike human jaws, which are made up of one part, snakes have two parts. And between them are connective tissue, skin, and muscles."
As soon as an animal is caught in the grip of a snake, a vultured predator wraps the victim over a long body to narrow the bloodstream before swallowing it.