Why Are Snakes So Creepy?

Thanks to 23andMe for sponsoring this video!

Snakes occupy a special place in the human brain because they’re so weird.

Thanks also to our supporters on
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FYI: We try to leave jargon out of our videos, but if you want to learn more about this topic, here are some keywords to get your googling started:
Ophidiophobia: The abnormal fear of snakes
Lateral Undulation: Waves of lateral bending through the body that propel the snake forward.
Trichromatic Vision: Three color receptors in the eye that allow the animal to see a wider spectrum of colors.
Electroencephalogram: A non-invasive method of measuring electrical activity in the brain.
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Illustrator: Qingyang Chen
Video Director: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Emily Elert, Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:

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If you liked this week’s video, we think you might also like:
Vsauce2 on Dragons and Snakes and Humans:

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References:

Isbell, L. (2004). Snakes as agents of evolutionary change in primate brains. Journal of Human Evolution 51 (1-35). Retrieved from:

LoBue, V., and DeLoache, J. (2008). Detecting the Snake in the Grass: Attention to Fear-Relevant Stimuli by Adults and Young Children. Psychological Science 19:3 (284-289). Retrieved from:

Van Lea, W., Isbelle, L., Matsumotoa, J., Nguyen, J., Horia, E., Maiorc, R., Tomazc, R., Trana, A., Onoa, T., and Nishijoa, H. (2013) Pulvinar neurons reveal neurobiological evidence of past selection for rapid detection of snakes. PNAS 110:47 (19000-19005). Retrieved from:

Kawai, N., and He, H. (2016). Breaking Snake Camouflage: Humans Detect Snakes More Accurately than Other Animals under Less Discernible Visual Conditions. PLoS ONE 11:10. Retrieved from: