Home Science Traveling snakes wiggle their bodies to glide down efficiently from trees

Traveling snakes wiggle their bodies to glide down efficiently from trees


Flying snake

The paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi)

Jake Socha

Snakes wiggle their bodies to propel them selves on land or by way of h2o, but why specified flying snake species do so in the air was unclear. Researchers have now uncovered that this undulation assists the snakes stabilise their bodies, enabling them to glide even further.

Isaac Yeaton at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and his colleagues examined the movements of Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, a species that launches itself from the tops of trees and can vacation up to 100 metres horizontally in a solitary glide.

These snakes flatten their bodies by splaying their ribs and wiggle from aspect to side as they glide, travelling at speeds of about 10 metres for each second.&#13


The group researched the movement of seven paradise tree snakes utilizing superior-pace motion seize, filming them from above as they launched off an 8.3-metre-large system to an artificial tree on the floor.

Analysing the snakes’ actions, the scientists observed that in mid-air the snakes undulate their bodies in the two horizontal and vertical waves, and also bend their bodies to angle their heads upwards and downwards.

The researchers then crafted a digital 3D design to simulate the snakes’ gliding and to glimpse at what result undulation had on their flight.

Without the need of undulation, the model confirmed that the snakes would promptly pitch downwards or pitch and roll, getting unstable while midair. With it, the greater part of simulations showed stable glides.

In other environments, snakes and other animals undulate for locomotion. “They’re pushing in opposition to their natural environment on the floor or they are pushing against drinking water even though swimming, says Yeaton. “If you stop undulating in that situation, you quit going.”

Traveling snakes use undulation differently, claims Yeaton. “They are using it for steadiness, not for propulsion.”

Journal reference: Character Physics, DOI: 10.1038/s41567-020-0935-4

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