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Video: See snakes fly

Virginia Tech researchers are learning how the reptiles are able to glide so gracefully to the ground

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Many of the arboreal snakes of Asia are renowned for their ability to glide impressive distances from high tree branches of the jungle. But how do they do it?
The flying snake Chrysopelea paradise
Image: Copyright Jake Socha
New video footage provides some of the answers: Biomechanist linkurl:Jake Socha;http://www.esm.vt.edu/%7Ejjsocha/socha_lab/Welcome.html of Virginia Tech and his colleagues launched one such species of "flying'' snakes, Chrysopelea paradise, from a 15-meter tall tower, then videotaped and analyzed the snakes' exact body positions throughout their flights. They also developed a gliding model to further explore the physical forces at play during the snakes' flights.The snakes are known to flatten their bodies to aid the descent, and Socha's new results have finally revealed exactly how the snake is positioned during its flight -- the head is angled up and the rest of the body is angled back and down, relative to the glide path, Socha...
The ScientistBioinspiration & BiomimeticsBioinspired Flight


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