The paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) can glide over long distances. It does so in order to jump from tree to tree in its native habitat. Jake Socha of Virginia Tech dropped snakes from a 15-meter tower in order to examine this ability under controlled conditions:
Rather than a smooth, even glide (known as equilibrium gliding, as executed by airborne birds), these snakes seemed to slither frenetically through the air. But all of their thrashing worked to reduce their fall speed (from about six meters per second to four meters per second) and gliding angle (from 32-48 degrees to 18-32 degrees).
"The snake is pushed upward—even though it is moving downward—because the upward component of the aerodynamic force is greater than the snake's weight," Socha said in a prepared statement. The new research suggests that the snakes' soaring might be due to specifically tuned undulations which could create vortex-induced lift, Socha and his colleagues noted in a study, to be published November 24 in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
Link via io9
Previously: Jake Socha's Flying Paradise Tree Snake