Some snakes use specialized holes in their heads, called pit organs, to “see” the heat radiating from their prey. Once thought to be an unexplainable sixth sense, a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reveals that the same molecule that enables snakes to track mammals in the dark also makes wasabi feel fiery in your mouth.
TRPA1 is a common protein found in humans and snakes alike. But because warm-blooded humans have no biological need to seek out other warm bodies for survival, we do not access it in the same way as cold-blooded snakes. Study coauthor, David Julius, continues:
“We’ve been trying to address this question for many years. The technology wasn’t really right for us to do that until recently.”
It is widely believed that zombies are cold-blooded, which is arguably the biggest difference between the undead and humans. With an abundant source of existing TRPA1 in the body, a reanimated zombie would only need to tap into this willing protein to generate its own innate heat sensing ability.
If the undead are able to sense the heat of humans, it would give them a substantial advantage in night hunting when temperatures typically drop. It also could make the cooler climates of the north more dangerous than previously thought.