Secrets of Angled Rattlesnake Movement

Angular rattlesnakes have evolved into an unusual way to travel in desert conditions. Only those who have ever been there will be able to appreciate their skill in overcoming the sand dunes.

A physicist from Georgia, Daniel Goldman, an expert in the mechanics of animal movements, decided to study in more detail the features of the movement of a rattlesnake in laboratory conditions. With the support of the Atlanta Zoo and the Robotics Department of Carnegie Mellon University, he built a small stand with a sand dune that was constantly blown through by air.

Using high-speed video recording, the researchers analyzed the features of the angular movements of the snake. As it turned out, most of her body is in contact with the sand, and the rest of her body is in an elevated state.

Such a model of movement can be characterized as the alternation of two waves: one wave is horizontal, parallel to the earth, and the second is vertical, similar to an ocean wave. The alternation of these waves in a checkerboard pattern is the secret of the rattlesnake's movement along the slope of the dune.

According to D. Goldman, his research will be of practical use when creating robots that will have to move in a sandy desert.