Wild Things: Great Whites, Tree Snakes, Drongos and More
These animals redefine life as we know it
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Jesse Rhodes, Jess Righthand and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, February 2011
Name: The paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi), native to Asia.
Airborne: This snake can launch from
a branch and travel as far as 330 feet.
Gliding? In a new study, not one of the four test snakes achieved true gliding equilibrium, which involves moving
at constant velocity at a constant angle to the horizon. Still, the researchers say their test flights may have been too short.
Flying? Maybe. By flattening and undulating their bodies, the snakes could at times briefly rise in altitude. “Quite an impressive feat for a snake,” says lead author John Socha of Virginia Tech.
Learn more about the paradise tree snake at the Encyclopedia of Life.
"Whistling in caterpillars (Amorpha juglandis, Bombycoidea): sound-producing mechanism and function," Veronica L. Bura et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, December 8, 2010
"Mechanics of biting in great white and sandtiger sharks," T. L. Ferrara et al., Journal of Biomechanics, December 3, 2010
"Non-equilibrium trajectory dynamics and the kinematics of gliding in a flying snake," John J. Socha et al., Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, November 24, 2010
"Singing for your supper: sentinel calling by kleptoparasites can mitigate the cost to victims," Andrew N. Radford et al., Evolution, November 18, 2010
"Why does Viola hondoensis (Violaceae) shed its winter leaves in spring?" Kouki Hikosaka et al., American Journal of Botany, November 15, 2010