Friday, 15 June 2012

Snakes' Scales Propel Them Up Tree Trunks

Without legs, snakes must get creative to slither up trees, and new research suggests they use the scales covering their bodies to make such climbs.

Their scales and body muscles work together to push against the bark on the tree as they inch upward, the researchers said.

"An important and surprising finding of our study was that snakes can double their friction coefficients … by active control of their scales," the researchers write in their research paper, published in the June 13 issue of the journal Royal Society Interface.

Holding on tight
Friction is the glue that holds the world together. For example: Imagine the difference between a regular slide and a water slide. The slide slick with water has much less friction than a dry slide, so you move faster down the water slide. Also, a small child slides quicker and easier than a 200-pound man, because the weight pushing against the surface increases the friction.


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