The Adventure of the Speckled Band: Plot Problems

“I’ve never been nervous about details,” Arthur Conan Doyle responded to criticism that his stories contained some, what I will call, plot problems.

But, I still must ask:

a. There is no such snake as the swamp adder, “the most dangerous snake in all of India.”  The swamp adder (Proatheris superciliaris), is found in Eastern Africa.

b. If the swamp adder is deaf, in fact, snakes don’t have ears at all, how was Dr. Roylott able to summon him with a whistle?

c.  Apparently, feeding a snake milk is based on a mythical practice.  Snakes fail to properly digest milk and fall ill  because of it.  More, the  swamp adder (of Africa) preys on small toads and frogs.

d. Snakes do not coil themselves around pulleys or ropes, and they certainly cannot jump in order to reach a rope hanging from the ceiling above a bed, without any attachment to the bed itself.  Rather, snakes use irregularities, such as protrusions from a tree bark, and hook themselves around them, one to the next.

Blogger scienceguy288 sighs, “Sherlock Holmes would be appalled at Doyle’s blunder in this case.  It was, ‘Elementary my dear Watson.’” Well, in Doyle’s defense, he did say he’s no stickler.

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