Why do snakes stick out their tongues at you?
Have you ever seen this? You've been looking at one of the snake animal ambassadors at the nature center, and one of them sticks out her black tongue and flicks it around.
She is smelling you!
The snake's tongue has a fork on the end of it, because it captures little pieces of smell --- odor particles --- that are floating in the air. The fork in the tongue that holds this smelly air is brought back into the snake's mouth and pressed against the roof of the mouth.
The snake has an organ called the Jacobson's organ inside its head. When the snake's tongue goes back inside its mouth, it is put into two pits in the roof of its mouth. Those two pits are the entrance to the Jacobson's organ. The two pits in the roof of the mouth is why snakes have to have that forked tongue.
The air particles that are pressed into the two pits in the roof of the mouth have information that is sent into the Jacobson's organ. This special organ reads the information about the air's scent and then sends that information to the snake's brain.
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