“No one is bored by snakes,” said Dr. Brian Greene, associate professor of biology at Missouri State University. Love them or hate them, everyone has an opinion on these animals, he noted. Recent research hypothesizes that there has been an evolution in the brains of primates that causes fear of snakes, and Greene will share some of that research and his research on the biology of snakes in a free lecture Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Temple Hall 002.
“For a long time, anthropologists have been trying to explain why primate brains are structured the way they are,” Greene said. “One of the new hypotheses is that the brain had to be able to perceive risk in the environment.”
As a herpetologist, a zoologist that focuses on amphibians and reptiles, Greene knows that one of the risks in the natural environment is dangerous snakes, but he has always been curious as to why people are so afraid.
“Psychologists tell us that perhaps it’s the top phobia of all that are known for people,” he said. “Now, it seems that the fear may very well be related to something that is hard wired in our brains and not a learned response. We’re programmed to become afraid of them.”
Greene’s lecture, “An Evolutionary Perspective on our Fear of Snakes,” is part of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences’ public lecture series.
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