The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

March 11, 2014

Researchers tackle mystery of how some snakes can fly

An ornate, lime-green snake hangs from a branch. Upon spotting a predator, it suddenly propels itself into the air, flattening and wiggling its body until safely landing in a faraway tree.

Flying snakes sound like creatures from a bad B-movie, but these serpents are elegant gliders that have evolved a special skill that sets them apart. In two new studies, engineers have used simulations to try to decipher how the wingless reptile manages to remain airborne despite its lack of flight appendages.

While in the air, the snakes transform their cross-sectional shape, splaying their ribs and flattening their bodies. Through computational and physical modeling, researchers have discovered that this modified shape helps them become more aerodynamic and allows vortexes of air above their bodies to suction them upwards.

"Little by little, we built a theory about how the snakes are interacting with the air to generate very large lift forces," said aeronautical engineer Lorena Barba of George Washington University, who authored a study published in Physics of Fluids on Tuesday.

In a tornado, the low-pressure region is in the center, or eye. Similarly, researchers found areas of low pressure that form on top of the snake's body, creating a small amount of suction and helping to generate lift. In collaboration with flying-snake expert Jake Socha of Virginia Tech, Barba was able to visualize these swirls of air in a complex computer air-flow simulation.

An earlier study by Socha, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in January, also investigated the flattened shape by using a 3-D printed snake model submerged in a tank of flowing water. Both experiments found that, surprisingly, the reptile has an excellent capacity to generate propelling flight forces, or lift.

They are called "flying snakes," but to be more precise, they are masters of the glide. Found in the lowland rainforests of Southeast and South Asia, flying snakes are fairly small creatures, growing to lengths of only a few feet and about the diameter of a lipstick. But upon jumping from a tall tree, say 30 feet, they can reach a horizontal distance of 10 times their body length.

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • School supplies offered at events

    With students going back to school soon, Clinton families will have two opportunities to receive free back-to-school supplies.

    July 30, 2014

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • YWCA offers lifeguard training

    CLINTON — The YWCA will offer lifeguard training in August.The course will be held from Aug. 4 to 10 at the YWCA. This 30-hour class will meet from 5 to 9 p.m. for four weeknights and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. A possibility of adding a class from 1

    July 25, 2014

  • GPS race Teams race to complete challenges THOMSON, Ill. — A challenge in August will pit teams against each other to complete a series of challenges.The event will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson. Armed with GPS units, teams

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Habitat for Humanity hosts fundraiser

    CLINTON — Habitat for Humanity will host a fundraiser in Thomson, Illinois.The Clinton County group will showcase Laid Back Luau from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at Heirloom Cafe in Thomson. The event will feature games, prizes, music train rides for

    July 25, 2014

  • Fire departments undergo grain bin rescue training OMAHA — The Goose Lake and Lost Nation Volunteer Fire Departments each have received lifesaving grain bin rescue equipment through a donation from Farm Credit Services of America.Goose Lake received its equipment July 14 and Lost Nation on July 15. E

    July 24, 2014

  • ADM donates $75K for fire boat purchase CLINTON — Archer Daniels Midland Company has donated $75,000 to the city of Clinton for a new fire and rescue boat for the Clinton Fire Department.The boat will help the fire department respond to fires, administer emergency medical services and resp

    July 24, 2014

  • Students get first-hand look at non-profits CLINTON — An upcoming event will showcase Clinton area’s non-profits to incoming Ashford University students.The second Fresh START (Serving to Achieve Results Together) event will be held Saturday, Aug. 16. Students and staff members will serve at v

    July 23, 2014

  • Friend of the Fair Two honored as 'Friends' MORRISON, Ill. — The Whiteside County Fair recently announced its 2014 Friend of the Fair. Paul Vock and Dan Heusinkveld are this year’s honorees. The two men have been involved with the fair for decades.Vock started with the fair in 1971 as the Heav

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.