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Kinematics

Gliding flight in the paradise tree snake

Abstract

Most vertebrate gliders, such as flying squirrels, use symmetrically paired 'wings' to generate lift during flight, but flying snakes (genus Chrysopelea) have no such appendages or other obvious morphological specializations to assist them in their aerial movements1,2,3,4,5,6. Here I describe the three-dimensional kinematics of gliding by the paradise tree snake, Chrysopelea paradisi, which indicate that the aerial behaviour of this snake is unlike that of any other glider and that it can exert remarkable control over the direction it takes, despite an apparent lack of control surfaces.

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Figure 1: Representative glide trajectory of Chrysopelea paradisi (snout–vent length, 64 cm; mass, 27 g).

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Correspondence to John J. Socha.

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The author declares no competing financial interests.

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Socha, J. Gliding flight in the paradise tree snake. Nature 418, 603–604 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/418603a

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