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Undulation enables gliding in flying snakes
Nature Physics ( IF 19.256 ) Pub Date : 2020-06-29 , DOI: 10.1038/s41567-020-0935-4
Isaac J. Yeaton; Shane D. Ross; Grant A. Baumgardner; John J. Socha

When flying snakes glide, they use aerial undulation. To determine if aerial undulation is a flight control strategy or a non-functional behavioural vestige of lateral undulation, we measured snake glides using high-speed motion capture and developed a new dynamical model of gliding. Reconstructions of the snake’s wing-body reveal that aerial undulation is composed of horizontal and vertical waves, whose phases differ by 90° and whose frequencies differ by a factor of two. Using these results, we developed a three-dimensional mathematical model of snake flight that incorporates aerodynamic and inertial effects. Although simulated glides without undulation attained some horizontal distance, they are biologically unrealistic because they failed due to roll and pitch instabilities. In contrast, the inclusion of undulation stabilized the rotational motion and markedly increased glide performance. This work demonstrates that aerial undulation in snakes serves a different function than known uses of undulation in other animals, and suggests a new template of control for dynamic flying robots.
更新日期:2020-06-29

 

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