Scientists Solve the Mystery Behind Asia's Flying Snakes

Josh Engen

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Aug 19, 2013
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Scientists Solve the Mystery Behind Asia's Flying Snakes



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 [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25943693]

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Tanis

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Aug 30, 2010
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The Escapist:
Posting stories to keep me from sleeping.

THANKS!
 

Shinkicker444

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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.
 

Yopaz

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Jun 3, 2009
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Shinkicker444 said:

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.
 

Ed130 The Vanguard

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Sep 10, 2008
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Shinkicker444 said:
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.
 

Vie

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Nov 18, 2009
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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
 

Denamic

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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.
 

Neta

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Aug 22, 2013
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Well it IS Virginia Tech. They're probably still trying to work out how bumblebees fly, too.
 

Chimpzy_v1legacy

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Jun 21, 2009
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Flying snakes?

Those things belong on the ground.

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

Thaluikhain

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Jan 16, 2010
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"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.