Behavioral Plasticity and the Origins of Novelty: The Evolution of the Rattlesnake Rattle

  title={Behavioral Plasticity and the Origins of Novelty: The Evolution of the Rattlesnake Rattle},
  author={Bradley Allf and Paul A P Durst and David W. Pfennig},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={475 - 483}
Environmentally induced behavior (behavioral plasticity) has long been hypothesized to promote the origins of novel morphological traits, but this idea remains controversial. [] Key Method We specifically evaluated whether rattlesnake rattling behavior-and, hence, the rattle-originated from a simple behavior: vibrating the tail when threatened. By reconstructing the ancestral state of defensive tail vibration, we show that this behavior is nearly ubiquitous in the Viperidae (the family that includes…
Microevolutionary change in mimicry? Potential erosion of rattling behaviour among nonvenomous snakes on islands lacking rattlesnakes
Comparing Gophersnakes from mainland California versus nearby derived island populations (where rattlesnakes are absent), it is found that mainland snakes vibrated their tail for a longer duration, thereby producing a signal more similar to rattling, which lends some support to the longstanding hypothesis that defensive tail vibration by nonvenomous snakes represents acoustic mimicry of rattling snakes.
Antipredation behavior covaries with body size in Neotropical snakes
  • D. Delaney
  • Environmental Science, Psychology
  • 2019
Although this study suggests two interesting patterns in the defensive behaviors of Neotropical colubrids and dipsadids, comparative studies of the interactions between snakes and their predators are needed to better understand the pressures driving variation in snake antipredation behavior.
Novel brain gene-expression patterns are associated with a novel predaceous behaviour in tadpoles
The results reject widespread heterochrony as a mechanism promoting the expression of predaceous larval behaviour and suggest that the evolution of this trait relied on novel patterns of gene expression that include components of pathways with conserved behavioural functions.
How to Investigate the Origins of Novelty: Insights Gained from Genetic, Behavioral, and Fitness Perspectives
It is concluded that integrative case studies can provide insights into this rarity relative to the dynamics of adaptation to more common ecological niches and repeated parallel speciation, such as the relative isolation of novel phenotypes on fitness landscapes and the transient availability of ecological, genetic, and behavioral opportunities.
The persistence and evolutionary consequences of vestigial behaviours.
It is proposed that vestigial behaviours could provide a substrate for co-option by novel selective forces, and advocate further study of the fate of behavioural traits following relaxed and reversed selection.
Innovation and Diversification Via Plasticity-Led Evolution
There are numerous ways that plasticity can contribute to the origins of new traits and new species, and the concept of plasticityled evolution is introduced—adaptive evolution that is set in motion by phenotypic plasticity.
Does Rattling Deter? The Case of Domestic Dogs.
Domestic dogs showed no hesitation to approach camouflaged speakers projecting the recorded rattles, and the results suggest that dogs may be vulnerable to envenomation because they fail to react to the sound of rattling with avoidance.
Developmental bias in horned dung beetles and its contributions to innovation, adaptation, and resilience
The role of developmental bias in contributing to organisms’ ability to innovate, to adapt to novel or stressful conditions, and to generate well integrated, resilient phenotypes in the face of perturbations is explored.
Leaf Form Evolution in Viburnum Parallels Variation within Individual Plants
It is argued that the recurrent production of alternative phenotypes provides opportunities to canalize the production of particular forms and that this phenomenon has played an important role in generating macroscale patterns.


Muscle Physiology and the Evolution of the Rattling System in Rattlesnakes
The rattle appears to have a been a key innovation in the adaptive radiation of rattlesnakes, but the evolution of the rattle remains poorly known and the relationship between tail vibration behaviors and vibration frequencies is poorly addressed.
Tests of Two Hypotheses for the Origin of the Crotaline Rattle
We suggest that the capability to retain terminal scale (here renamed sclerophymal) exuviae that were mobile, i.e., origin of the protorattle, was contingent on prior evolution of longitudinal
The rattling sound of rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) as a communicative resource for ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) and burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia).
Animal communication involves very dynamic processes that can generate new uses and functions for established communicative activities. In this article, the authors describe how an aposematic signal,
Temperature-Frequency Relationship of the Rattlesnake Rattle
The development of the common gobies (Gobius) from the egg to the adult stages is studied, with special reference to their pigment granules (pterinosomes) in swordtail.
A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes
A new large-scale phylogeny of squamate reptiles is presented that includes new, resurrected, and modified subfamilies within gymnophthalmid and scincid lizards, and boid, colubrid, and lamprophiid snakes.
Geographic Variation, Convergent Crypsis and Mimicry in Gopher Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) and Western Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis)
Western North American races of the gopher snake Pituophis melanoleucus share aspects of coloration, pattern and defense behavior with the sympatric rattlesnake Crotalus viridis, and have been
The role of phenotypic plasticity in driving genetic evolution
The role of phenotypic plasticity in stimulating evolution is assessed by considering two examples from birds: (i) the evolution of red and yellow plumage coloration due to carotenoid consumption; and (ii) the Evolution of foraging behaviours on islands.
The role of developmental plasticity in evolutionary innovation
Three distinct ways by which developmental plasticity can promote evolutionary innovation are examined, showing how the process of genetic accommodation provides a feasible and possibly common avenue by which environmentally induced phenotypes can become subject to heritable modification.
Can Modern Evolutionary Theory Explain Macroevolution
It is concluded that although several proposed extensions and seemingly unorthodox ideas have some merit, the observations they purport to explain can mostly be interpreted within the framework of the Synthetic Theory.