Field of Science

Spore Dispersal by Snakes

I tend to avoid snakes in life in general, but this snake is having a super cool interaction with a moss. If you look closely, it appears that this smooth earthsnake is covered in moss spores!

Close-up of the snake's head.

Close-up of the bright green spores coming out of the moss capsule. 

What do you think? I think that they look like spores on the snake. How long will they stick or how far can the snake go without them falling off? Easy to guess, hard to measure.  Probably a little ways, maybe further depending on how quickly they dry and the cover of plants the snake is crawling through. I think that spore dispersal by animals is a very interesting phenomenon and is under documented in the literature. Have a favorite spore dispersing creature or photos you would like to share?

Thanks to Tobias Landberg, a postdoctoral researcher at Murray State University in Kentucky, for taking and sending me these photos.

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