Snakes Use Friction and Redistribution of Their Weight to Slither on Flat Terrain


Snakes use both friction generated by their scales and redistribution of their weight to slither along flat surfaces, researchers at New York University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have found. Their findings, which appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, run counter to previous studies that have shown snakes move by pushing laterally against rocks and branches.

The necessity of snake scales can be shown by putting snakes on smooth surfaces or enveloping their scales in cloth.  In both of these cases, snakes are unable to slither forward.
The necessity of snake scales can be shown by putting snakes on smooth surfaces or enveloping their scales in cloth. In both of these cases, snakes are unable to slither forward.

Alternate Contact: Abby Vogel | 404.385.3364 | avogel@gatech.edu

Snakes use both friction generated by their scales and redistribution of their weight to slither along flat surfaces, researchers at New York University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have found. Their findings, which appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, run counter to previous studies that have shown snakes move by pushing laterally against rocks and branches.

“We found that snakes’ belly scales are oriented so that snakes resist sliding toward their tails and flanks,” said the paper’s lead author, David Hu, a former post-doctoral researcher at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech’s Georg 500

Cannot serve request to /content/nyu/en/about/news-publications/news/2009/june/snakes_use_friction_and.html on this server


ApacheSling/2.2 (Day-Servlet-Engine/4.1.52, Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 1.7.0_80, Linux 2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.centos.plus.x86_64 amd64)