From the NationalPost.com
Erin Valois November 23, 2010 – 3:21 pm
Forget military dolphins with “toxic dart guns” — the U.S. Department of Defense has a new trick up its sleeve, and it involves flying snakes.
No, the DoD doesn’t plan to use the snakes in combat or as a new strategy in guerilla warfare. Instead, the agency is providing funds for Virginia Tech’s research the aerodynamics of the gliding creatures, according to the Washington Post.
What the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to do with this research is still unknown (they refused to comment on the Washington Post story), but finding out how these snakes found in Southeast Asia are able to fly could help the U.S. make great improvements to their military technology.
Why is the tree-dwelling Chrysopelea paradisi so special? First of all, these snakes have no appendages — yet they can travel great distances. The researchers found that the snakes are able to get from the top of a tree, nearly 200 feet in the air, to a tree trunk located 783 ft away.
From the Washington Post:
“Basically . . .they become one long wing,” said John Socha, the Virginia Tech researcher who has traveled extensively in Asia to study the snakes and to film them.
“The snake is very active in the air, and you can kind of envision it as having multiple segments that become multiple wings,” he said. “The leading edge becomes the trailer and then the trailer become the leading edge.”
The snakes can even rotate in the air and use a special technique that researchers have yet to explain that allows the snake to continue at a certain speed in order to maintain airborne.
Socha’s research will appear in the latest edition of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.
National Geographic also helped Socha fund his initial research. Below, their video featuring the acrobatics of flying snakes.
Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/11/23/u-s-defense-department-looking-into-flying-snakes/#ixzz168x8r1MV
Go Here to see the video: http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/11/23/u-s-defense-department-looking-into-flying-snakes/