The mechanics of slithering locomotion

David L. Hu, Jasmine Nirody, Terri Scott, Michael Shelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the slithering of snakes on flat surfaces. Previous studies of slithering have rested on the assumption that snakes slither by pushing laterally against rocks and branches. In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin. Our predictions of body speed show good agreement with observations, demonstrating that snake propulsion on flat ground, and possibly in general, relies critically on the frictional anisotropy of their scales. We have also highlighted the importance of weight distribution in lateral undulation, previously difficult to visualize and hence assumed uniform. The ability to redistribute weight, clearly of importance when appendages are airborne in limbed locomotion, has a much broader generality, as shown by its role in improving limbless locomotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10081-10085
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume106
Issue number25
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 23 2009

Fingerprint

Snakes
Locomotion
Mechanics
Theoretical Models
Weights and Measures
Friction
Anisotropy
Biomechanical Phenomena

Keywords

  • Friction
  • Locomotion
  • Snake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

The mechanics of slithering locomotion. / Hu, David L.; Nirody, Jasmine; Scott, Terri; Shelley, Michael.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 106, No. 25, 23.06.2009, p. 10081-10085.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hu, David L. ; Nirody, Jasmine ; Scott, Terri ; Shelley, Michael. / The mechanics of slithering locomotion. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009 ; Vol. 106, No. 25. pp. 10081-10085.
@article{54dd46ffd88248eca9d82d698a0d6b49,
title = "The mechanics of slithering locomotion",
abstract = "In this experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the slithering of snakes on flat surfaces. Previous studies of slithering have rested on the assumption that snakes slither by pushing laterally against rocks and branches. In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin. Our predictions of body speed show good agreement with observations, demonstrating that snake propulsion on flat ground, and possibly in general, relies critically on the frictional anisotropy of their scales. We have also highlighted the importance of weight distribution in lateral undulation, previously difficult to visualize and hence assumed uniform. The ability to redistribute weight, clearly of importance when appendages are airborne in limbed locomotion, has a much broader generality, as shown by its role in improving limbless locomotion.",
keywords = "Friction, Locomotion, Snake",
author = "Hu, {David L.} and Jasmine Nirody and Terri Scott and Michael Shelley",
year = "2009",
month = "6",
day = "23",
doi = "10.1073/pnas.0812533106",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "106",
pages = "10081--10085",
journal = "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America",
issn = "0027-8424",
number = "25",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The mechanics of slithering locomotion

AU - Hu, David L.

AU - Nirody, Jasmine

AU - Scott, Terri

AU - Shelley, Michael

PY - 2009/6/23

Y1 - 2009/6/23

N2 - In this experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the slithering of snakes on flat surfaces. Previous studies of slithering have rested on the assumption that snakes slither by pushing laterally against rocks and branches. In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin. Our predictions of body speed show good agreement with observations, demonstrating that snake propulsion on flat ground, and possibly in general, relies critically on the frictional anisotropy of their scales. We have also highlighted the importance of weight distribution in lateral undulation, previously difficult to visualize and hence assumed uniform. The ability to redistribute weight, clearly of importance when appendages are airborne in limbed locomotion, has a much broader generality, as shown by its role in improving limbless locomotion.

AB - In this experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the slithering of snakes on flat surfaces. Previous studies of slithering have rested on the assumption that snakes slither by pushing laterally against rocks and branches. In this study, we develop a theoretical model for slithering locomotion by observing snake motion kinematics and experimentally measuring the friction coefficients of snakeskin. Our predictions of body speed show good agreement with observations, demonstrating that snake propulsion on flat ground, and possibly in general, relies critically on the frictional anisotropy of their scales. We have also highlighted the importance of weight distribution in lateral undulation, previously difficult to visualize and hence assumed uniform. The ability to redistribute weight, clearly of importance when appendages are airborne in limbed locomotion, has a much broader generality, as shown by its role in improving limbless locomotion.

KW - Friction

KW - Locomotion

KW - Snake

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=67649849905&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=67649849905&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1073/pnas.0812533106

DO - 10.1073/pnas.0812533106

M3 - Article

C2 - 19506255

AN - SCOPUS:67649849905

VL - 106

SP - 10081

EP - 10085

JO - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

JF - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

SN - 0027-8424

IS - 25

ER -