Rattlesnake rattles use auditory illusion to trick human brains


The menacing rattle of a rattlesnake’s tail is far more sophisticated than first thought, as the structure can create an auditory illusion that suggests the venomous snake is closer to a potential threat than it really is, according to a new study.

Scientists think that rattlesnakes “rattle” the keratin structure on their tails to warn off predators, gradually increasing the frequency as a possible attacker gets closer. But now they’ve found the snake may have another trick in its arsenal — a sudden frequency jump in the rattling sound that it uses to fool its listener.