After lunging its 3-feet-long body off treetops at an impressive speed of 25 miles per hour (help me God), the paradise tree snake smoothly “undulates” its taut body while suspended in the air, which left scientists with one main question: Does this serve any purpose? Now, thanks to researchers at Virginia Tech, the mystery has been solved: According to their findings, published this week in the journal Nature Physics, the undulation “enables gliding.” Nice. Though this information is a revelation to me, personally, it is not exactly a breaking discovery — apparently, some people have known about these flying snakes for quite some time. By Amanda Arnold@aMandolinz
Paradise tree snake. Also, “flying” might be a bit of an overstatement for what they do, which resembles long-jumping more closely than travel by air. What is new, though, is our understanding of how the native Southeast Asian snake stays airborne. But, still. To be precise, not all snakes — only one species, the paradise tree snake. Photo: Justin Ong/Getty Images
As if snakes weren’t already one of the most widely feared and reviled creatures alive, it turns out that the wingless reptiles are also capable of flight? Snakes can fly???? “It’s kind of scary.” Indeed — apologies for the nightmare fodder. Researchers at Virginia Tech used high-speed motion capture to study how one snake species can leap several meters at a time https://t.co/PTg8GRooh1 pic.twitter.com/TkNAp7XJey— CNN (@CNN) July 1, 2020
“It’s hard to believe a snake can do this,” one researcher told the New York Times.