Animals

How Snakes Jump and Move Without Legs

Here's how these reptiles evolved to be expert slithering creatures -- no legs required

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Four-Legged Fossil Snake Is a World First (Nature.com)
"The first four-legged fossil snake ever found is forcing scientists to rethink how snakes evolved from lizards. Although it has four legs, Tetrapodophis amplectus has other features that clearly mark it as a snake, says Nick Longrich, a palaeontologist at the University of Bath, UK."

How Snakes Lost Their Legs (Discovery News)
"Some, if not all, snakes used to have legs, and now new research suggests snakes lost their limbs by growing them more slowly or for a shorter period of time. The research, outlined in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, strengthens the belief that snakes evolved from a lizard that either burrowed on land or swam in the ocean."

Gliding Flight in Chrysopelea: Turning a Snake into a Wing (Oxford Journals: Integrative and Comparative Biology)
"Although many cylindrical animals swim through water, flying snakes of the genus Chrysopelea are the only limbless animals that glide through air. Despite a lack of limbs, these snakes can actively launch by jumping, maintain a stable glide path without obvious control surfaces, maneuver, and safely land without injury."

Snakes Use Scales to Slither (Nature.com)
"Snakes rely on the frictional properties of their scales to slither, a new study suggests. The work could explain how snakes move across bare terrain such as sand and roads, where they can't push off rocks and branches."