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Earth Science

Flying Snake Mysteries Revealed 78

Posted by timothy
from the why-your-attic-sounds-like-slithering dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Researchers from Virginia Tech are reporting they have uncovered the secrets behind the genus Chrysopelea's aerodynamic feats . These ophidians are capable of gliding some distance while appearing to slither through the air. The BBC's article on the revelations hosts a short video of the phenomenon. At the heart of Chrysopelea's feat is a remarkable ability of the snakes to alter their body's cross-section. Finally, snakes that don't need to be on no stinking plane." The paper [PDF] has some more cool pictures, too.
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Flying Snake Mysteries Revealed

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  • When seized by hawks or other raptors and a clumsily dropped, one may find a totally pissed off rattlesnake landing on their hat or shoulder.

    Not quite the old Death From Above maneouver, but it'll do until we're piloting 'Mechs around.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The PDF contains one tiny, worthless picture of the snake.

  • Herodotus' History (Score:5, Informative)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @02:33PM (#46112473)
    Herodotus in his History mentioned flying snakes in Arabia/Egypt. Many considered it one of the more fanciful tales in that work.
  • I wonder how that one evolved. A billion snakes leapt to their death until ... ?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't it more likely that there were a couple thousand years of hopping snakes and then leaping snakes? Much like the original base jumpers started by jumping off roofs into pools.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Snakes facing a predator leaping from certain death to probable death. Snakes with the right adaptations were a bit less likely to die from the leap.

    • by MickLinux (579158)

      Snakes climb trees, and jump (okay, slither) out of trees, all the time. The best eggs are up there, and an occasional bite that tastes like chicken.

      Point being, that this one doesn't require lots of snakes to die; it's a normal progression.

      • The problem with that "normal progression" is that it requires significant structural changes to happen before it will be useful. I'm not sure that I see any incremental advantage accruing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Finally, snakes that don't need to be on no stinking plane..." ... ... ... ???

    Agreed, and this sentence no verb either.

    • by kwbauer (1677400)

      Since when is "to be" not considered a verb?

      • Actually the verb of that sentence is "need".
        The subjects are the snakes. And they don't need.
        What don't they need ? "to be on the plane".

        • No, that's a relative clause [wikipedia.org], not a full sentence. "that don't need to be on the plane" serves only as an adjective for "snakes".

          The independent sentence, without the relative clause, is "Finally, snakes." The primary verb is implied: "Finally, [there are] snakes." Or maybe "Finally, [we have] snakes." Or something similar.

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            Excellent, can you get to work on See Spot Run now?
            http://www.straightdope.com/co... [straightdope.com]

          • No, that's a relative clause [wikipedia.org], not a full sentence. "that don't need to be on the plane" serves only as an adjective for "snakes".

            The independent sentence, without the relative clause, is "Finally, snakes." The primary verb is implied: "Finally, [there are] snakes." Or maybe "Finally, [we have] snakes." Or something similar.

            I saw what you did there.

  • why haven't we killed them all yet?

  • This story is only one word away from being a Cards Against Humanity favorite.

  • These aerodynamic characteristics help to explain how the snake can glide at steep angles and over a wide range of angles of attack, but more complex models that account for 3D effects and the dynamic movements of aerial undulation are required to fully understand the gliding performance of flying snakes

    Without that information, I doubt we've revealed the real mysteries.

  • by YoungManKlaus (2773165) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:13PM (#46112833)

    I remember hearing this same story (regarding flattening of the body) already in the 90s.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      I remember hearing this same story (regarding flattening of the body) already in the 90s.

      The only thing that I can see is novel is that they measured the aerodynamic properties of the airfoil shape and came up with hard numbers for how good it is.

      But being the pussies they are, the VT people didn't measure this on actual snakes in flight, and only tested a model!

  • Why does this sound so much like the makings of a B horror flick to me? (When it happens, just remember that you read it here first, folks.)
  • [...] As he spoke, Carson noticed a slim green ribbon ripple out of the jungle canopy ahead. It glided toward them and settled on Gupta's shoulder. A jade ribbon snake.
    Carson reached over and flicked it to the ground, then stomped on its head, hard.
    Gupta flinched, then looked down. "A flying snake is only mildly toxic to humans, there was no need to do that."
    "Flying snakes on Earth, perhaps," said Carson. "This is a jade, its venom compares to that of a krait or a taipan."
    Gupta paled. "That deadly?"
    "On

  • However, this is not at all news. It's been known for years how they do it.

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