Snake walk: The physics of slithering

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“One of the things that’s really interesting about snakes is that their entire body is, in this type of locomotion, in sliding contact with the ground,” Perrin Schiebel, who is studying for a PhD in physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, explains. “So they have to be able to push off things in their terrain effectively, to overcome the fact that they’ve got these frictional drag forces on their stomach all the time.”

“What I’ve found… is that the (Mojave shovel-nosed) snake is using a waveform that is beneficial for travelling quickly at the surface – and that all of these complex things, like the grains flowing away, or the tracks the snake makes, may not be important.”

Her study also marks out the shovel-nosed snake as rather different from other species, which the team has observed adopting much more irregular, complicated shapes in footage from a nearby zoo.

source: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35563941

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