That description is near the type of locomotion that Dr. Jayne and his graduate pupil, Steven J. Newman, analyzed in a current situation of the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Not like most snake types of motion, this one entails transferring in a straight line, with no bending. It isn’t swift, as Kaa’s progress was in Kipling’s “Jungle Ebook,” however it’s eerily liquid. Slyly, slowly, the snake flows with out bending.
The movement had not escaped college students of snakes. A scientist named Hans Lissmann described it about 70 years in the past and produced a speculation about what muscle groups the snakes used to propel themselves, and the way these muscle groups acted.
Dr. Jayne stated, “We had a particularly good thought of the entire actions,” and Lissmann hypothesized how the muscle groups may work. “However what we had been actually missing had been any direct observations of how the muscle groups work,” Dr. Jayne stated.
To do these observations, Mr. Newman inserted effective wire electrodes within the snakes’ muscle groups to report their exercise, one thing like the best way sensors report coronary heart exercise in an electrocardiogram.
What the scientists discovered was that Lissmann was principally proper, however not precisely so. Right here’s the way it works:
Because the snake is transferring ahead, a muscle in its stomach pores and skin shortens the pores and skin and stays tensed. Then a muscle operating ahead from the tip of 1 rib to the pores and skin tenses to tug the skeleton and physique ahead over the pores and skin.
One other muscle that runs towards the tail from the center of a rib to the pores and skin pulls the pores and skin ahead.
Lissmann didn’t count on the pores and skin muscle to remain tensed, and he thought the pores and skin muscle groups did the work of pulling the physique ahead, whereas it’s the muscle operating from the tip of a rib to the pores and skin.
Why do the small print matter? Scientists and poets alike wish to get issues proper, whether or not it’s a matter of the exact phrase or exercise of the muscle.
And by way of practicality, the makers of sentimental, snakelike robots meant to seek out their manner by nooks and crannies with out troublesome legs to snag on obstacles, may discover the precise nature of the movement helpful, as snakes have for millenniums.
Curiously, Dr. Jayne stated, the sluggish, liquid crawl he and Mr. Newman studied appears to be used extra by the heavier snakes — boas and pythons.