Research

Flying Snakes Draft off Themselves

Some snakes in Southeast and South Asia are known to glide some 100 m between trees. Researchers filmed snakes, constructed computational models of their flights, and tested plastic models in a water tunnel. They found that the snakes angled their bodies such that they generate lift to counteract their fall and that the S-configuration they assume increases lift much the way flying in a V-formation does for geese. The wake from the forward portion of the snake interacts with the flow around the back of the snake and reduces downwash, which increases lift. In effect, the back of the snake is drafting off the front. #

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