Plasticine snakes – their use in research.

Plasticine® was invented by William Harbutt of Bathampton, near Bath, England, in 1897. Since then, it has been extensively employed as a plaything (and, of course, as the core technology behind the development of Wallace and Gromit®). The extent of the use of Plasticine® in scientific research is, however, currently undocumented, but Improbable has tracked down at least three examples – all involving hand-crafted Plasticine® snakes.


Study one.
Why don’t small snakes bask? Juvenile broad-headed snakes trade thermal benefits for safety J. K. Webb, School of Biological Sciences, The Univ. of Sydney, Australia and M. J. Whiting, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa. (published in Oikos 110: 515_/522. , 2005) [ Note: the photo above, taken from the sudy, shows a black Plasticine® replica of a juvenile broad-headed snake Hoplocephalus bungaroides. ]
Study two :
USE OF PLASTICINE REPLICA SNAKES TO ELICIT ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR IN THE CALIFORNIA GROUND SQUIRREL (SPERMOPHILUS BEECHEYI) Milan J. Mitrovich and Rachel A. Cotroneo, Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego ( published in The Southwestern Naturalist 51(2):263-267. 2006)

Study three:
Disruptive aposematism? Significance of dorsal zigzag pattern of European vipers Janne VALKONEN (1), Martti NISKANEN (1), Mats BJOKLUND (2), Johanna MAPPES (1). (1) Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, P.O. Box 35, 40014 University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. (2) Dept of Animal Ecology, Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC) Uppsala University Norbyvagen 18 D SE-752 36 (published in proceedings of the 3rd Biology of the Vipers Conference Calci, Pisa, Italy, 31st March-2nd April 2010 [page 30 in the .pdf])

If any readers have information about any other uses of Plasticine® in scientific research please post a comment and let us know.