What the skin of snakes reveals about how they move

AtlantaThe special skin structure helps certain types of snakes to side the snake. This will enable them to move optimally in their sandy environment, the researchers wrote in Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences (“PNAS”). Your results can be helpful in building robots.

Most snakes slide their bodies from head toward the tail from side to side, climbing forward in an S-shape. However, some types of snakes found in the deserts of North America, Africa, or Asia have developed a different method of movement: these side snakes meander and lift The middle part of the body is off the ground.

According to previous studies, this could improve mobility in sand: “The idea is for a lunatic to distribute the forces that their bodies exert on the ground while in motion so that they do not cause an avalanche in the sand dunes when they move over it,” explains Jennifer Reiser of the Georgia Institute Technology in a press release.

Skin structure varies

The researcher and her team have now investigated the question of whether skin structure plays a role in this unusual type of movement. They examined different types of snakes, including three types of crosswinds: the desert-horned snake (Cerastes cerastes), the Avicennaviper (Cerastes vipera), and the rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes). They examined the skins of these snakes under an atomic force microscope.

They found that the skin structure of the side wall differs significantly from that of other snakes. The researchers report that instead of minute bumps arranged lengthwise, their skin has microscopic pits.

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Using a mathematical model, they examined how the special structure affected the frictional forces between the skin and the ground and found that longitudinally arranged bumps are optimal for forward movement, but potholes are better for lateral movements. “You can visualize it like the ribs on rope,” Reiser says. “If you run your fingers over the rope in the same direction as the ribs, there is less friction than if you pass your fingers over the ribs laterally.”

In addition to the pits, the researchers also found spikes on the skin of the lateral fasciae, but they are much smaller and much smaller than the non-lateral snakes. The snake is found in deserts in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, which appeared much later compared to the African deserts. “That could explain why some of the little nails on its stomach remain in the side rattlesnake,” says Riser. The species simply did not have time to perfectly adapt their movement to the sandy environment.

When designing robots, Razer says, their surface must also be optimally modified with the surface on which they are supposed to move. “Although snakes have a relatively simple body plan, they can move successfully in a variety of habitats.” Their long, flexible bodies could model a range of robotic applications, from surgical procedures to building search and rescue missions.

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