Scientists Solve the Mystery Behind Asia's Flying Snakes

Scientists Solve the Mystery Behind Asia's Flying Snakes

Flying Snakes - Main

A team of researchers from Virginia Tech has cracked the flying snake's mysterious abilities.

I'm not usually afraid of snakes, but there's one genus living in the rainforests of Southeast Asia that's making me rethink my position. The Chrysopelea, a taxonomic classification which includes five subspecies, is able to leap from the treetops and gracefully float to the ground below. Until recently, the secret of the snake's aerodynamics has remained a mystery, but scientists love a good mystery.

"The snake is definitely not an intuitive glider. When you look at it, you say: 'that thing should not be able to glide.' And in its normal body configuration that is probably true," said Professor Jake Socha from Virginia Tech. "But when it enters the air, when it takes off and jumps and leaps from a branch, it massively transforms its body."

According to Socha, the snake has the ability to rotate its ribs in order to double in width, which creates a kind of scaly airfoil. Then, in order to amplify the aerodynamic effect, the snake wriggles through the air just like that swimming anaconda in the movie Anaconda, starring Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez.

"It is moving its head from side to side," explains Socha, "it is passing waves down the body and it looks like the animal is swimming in the air."

The Virginia Tech research team thinks that the investigation could lead to more effective robotic designs, which sounds like the most terrifying application ever conceived.

Source: BBC

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The Escapist:
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Wonder if they have something to do with the myth of chinese dragons. If you saw ones of these back in the day you'd probably think it was a baby one or something.

Tanis:
The Escapist:
Posting stories to keep me from sleeping.

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Shinkicker444:

Wonder if they have something to do with the myth of chinese dragons. If you saw ones of these back in the day you'd probably think it was a baby one or something.

Thanks for sharing the video.

OT: I haven't heard about this snake before, but damn, this thing's cool. Perfect for hilariously bad movies too. This could be used to surpass Sharknado.

Shinkicker444:


Wonder if they have something to do with the myth of chinese dragons. If you saw ones of these back in the day you'd probably think it was a baby one or something.

It's certainly possible due to its habitat location.

I read that they moved their ribs to achieve this gliding ability, but to rotate them as well? That's pretty amazing.

Rotating ribs? Wonder how that would work.

capcha: road less travelled... indeed.

Hang on, all of this has been known for years.

Hell I remember watcing a documentary as a kid where they featured this snake, and there was no mistery as to how it flew. All the info that in this article has been known fo years

As amazing as this creature is, this has been known for ages. I had a children's science book as a kid with one of these snakes explained in it, and that was roughly 20 years ago.

Well it IS Virginia Tech. They're probably still trying to work out how bumblebees fly, too.

Flying snakes?
image
Those things belong on the ground.

Just you wait, next they'll learn how to open doors

Okay braniac , you figured out how it flies now answer the more important question... how did the snakle figure out how to do that?

Seriously, what posssess one snake on a fine day to leap off a tree and contort it's body... was there a trial and error process... how does a bloody snake learn to fricken glide?

"the movie Anaconda, starring Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez"

Drifting a bit off topic there.

But yeah, as mentioned, has this not be known for ages? David Attenborough featured them in documentaries a few times.

BigTuk:

Seriously, what posssess one snake on a fine day to leap off a tree and contort it's body... was there a trial and error process... how does a bloody snake learn to fricken glide?

My guess would be that tree snakes developed the ability to glide as a means to escape predators. Snakes that glided better (ie survived the fall) would breed and pass on those genes. Many, many, many generations later, we get snakes with the adapted physical qualities for controlled decent.

Either that or a burning bush handed a serpent an FAA manual. But I'm more predisposed towards the prior.

And as always I'm so glad I live in Holland where there are no weird ass creatures ready to jump or poison you at every turn.

BigTuk is right though, how the hell did they learn this ability? Have they always had the ability to "rotate its ribs" and do they just like doing that, and then one faithful day one of them was being a dumbass and was doing this 'rotating' up in a tree and fell, and then in a blind panic just started flailing all about and to his surprise didn't die? Is that how it happened?

Snakes on a plane? The snakes ARE the plane!

 

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