domingo, 2 de febrero de 2014

Scientists Solve the Mystery Behind Flying Snakes

Snakes might look scary, but researchers say most are harmless if left alone. (Photo : Omar Torres-Carvajal et al. CC-BY 3.0)

Scientists have recently discovered the mystery behind these gliding reptiles that carry the ability to fling themselves through the air--otherwise known as flying snakes.

According to study researchers, the serpents are able to drastically alter their body shape and generate energy that gives them the ability to stay aloft.
"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. "But when it enters the air, when it takes off and jumps and leaps from a branch, it massively transforms its body," said Professor Jake Socha, from Virginia Tech in the US, who carried out the study, according to BBC.

There are only five known species of flying snakes that belong to the genus Chrysopelea, according to background information from the study. Socha notes that as the snakes jump, their bodies flatten out and rotate in such a way that allows motion to increase through a unique cross-sectional shape.

Researchers found that the body of these creatures changed to one that was typically more squashed and concave at the bottom from the cross-section.

To get a better grasp on how their bodies change for this process, researchers also created a plastic copy of the snake's cross-section and placed it in a tank of flowing water to study it further.

"The water flowed over it and we measured the forces on the model and we also visualised the flow movement in the water using lasers and high-speed cameras," Socha added, via the news organization.

Along with future studies, researchers believe these findings could contribute to the future makings of robots that can crawl, climb and even glide.

What do you think?

More information regarding the study can be found via the Journal of Experimental Biology.

ORIGINAL: World Science Report

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