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Snake (Animal S.)

The snake's primordial system, functioning for well over one hundred million years, is a marvel of genetic engineering. The snake smells with its tongue, hears with its flesh, and propels itself by a locomotion of rippling muscles. It sheds its skin, and has a detachable tail. Its eye is lidless, covered by a transparent scale, and its retina acts as a zoom lens. It has one lung, and breathes under sand. Its mouth unhinges to surround a body many times its size, and its digestion can takes months. It copulates for days with one snake or fifty at once, lay eggs, gives birth live, or self-clones. Its penis and its clitoris are forked. Its gender when in the womb is determined by heat. It has infrared radar. It mimics death if afraid or induces spontaneous bleeding. With all these qualities it is easy to see why no other creature has inspired such contradictory emotions or such diverse symbolism. Snakes are celebrated in names, tattoos, emblems, tales, mementos, and for their medical benefits in cultures throughout the world, and yet at the same time they are so universally feared that they endure intense persecution and, unlike other hunted animals, rarely enjoy protected rights. Virtually as long as humans have walked the earth, snakes have been worshipped, reviled, prized, totemized, tortured and collected, and invested with meanings ranging from resurrection, wisdom and divine female omniscience to world destruction, duplicity and male castration. Snake explores snake natural history, and the complex and widespread snake symbolism, from Eve's serpent in the Bible, to Kaa in The Jungle Book, and from the Chinese zodiac to Indian snake charmers and the Hollywood film Anaconda. Including many illustrations and a wide range of material, from snake cooking and the use of venom in medicine, to the strange history of snake symbolism in art, architecture, cinema and clothing, this book will interest snake enthusiasts, specialists and scholars on animals in culture, as well as all who love, admire, imitate or fear this remarkable and durable animal.
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About the Author

Drake Stutesman is a freelance writer and lives in New York City. She is editor of Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media.


'Stutesman demonstrates what we've always most venerated and feared about snakes' - Independent on Sunday

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