The international team, led by researchers in the University's School of Biological Sciences, studied tiny and poorly understood structures on the heads of snakes called 'scale sensilla'. The research has been published in the Royal Society journal Open Biology.
"Land snakes and many lizards have small raised structures on the scales on their heads – called scale sensilla – that they use to sense objects by direct touch," says lead author Jenna Crowe-Riddell, University of Adelaide PhD student.
"We found that the scale sensilla of sea snakes were much more dome-shaped than the sensilla of land snakes, with the organs protruded further from the animals' scales, potentially making them more likely to be able to sense vibrations from all directions. We also found that scale sensilla on some of the fully aquatic snakes covered a much higher proportion of the scales' surface.