Although this has been widely debated, many scientists have determined that snakes use forked tongues to track pheromone scents of predators as well as sexual partners. The forked tongue allows them to trace two points at once.
The forked tongue is, generally, used as a sensory organ akin to our nose. It’s rather like the snakes (and other reptiles with forked tongues) are simultaneously “smelling” and “tasting” the air. The fork provides two separate data points for the snake’s brain to compare, and using the differences in intensity between them, the snake can figure out which way a scent is coming from. This is the same principle as to why having two widely-spaced ears allows us to determine where a sound is coming from. It’s not that they’re tracing two separate points simultaneously; rather, they’re comparing the points to determine directionality.
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