Paradise Tree Flying Snakes
Photo credit: Jake Socha
Flying snakes, like the paradise tree snake, can be found residing in the trees of South and Southeast Asia. They slither from tree branches, but to get to the ground or another tree, they’ll catapult themselves into the air and glide down at an angle. To figure out how they glide, reserachers placed motion-capture tags on seven snakes and then used high-speed cameras to film them as they glided across a giant four-story-high theater. Read more for a video and additional information.

Turns out that how far they can actually go depends on how they are when jumping. They accomplish this feat by flattening their bodies, while making wavelike movements, similar to how one would swim in the air, or undulate. Virginia Tech professor Jake Socha believes that this undulation helps the snakes fly.

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In all these years, I think I’ve seen close to a thousand glides,” It’s still amazing to see every time. Seeing it in person, there’s something a little different about it. It’s shocking still. What exactly is this animal doing? Being able to answer the questions I’ve had since I was a graduate student, many, many years later, is incredibly satisfying,” said Jake Socha, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech