How Do Snakes Move? Spectacular Facts You Didn't Know | Kidadl


How Do Snakes Move? Spectacular Facts You Didn't Know

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Snakes are reptiles that have evolved from prehistoric lizards and have been around for over 100 million years.

Snakes can be found in a range of environments such as woods, marshes, grasslands, trees, rocks, deserts, and fresh and saltwater too. Some snakes are more energetic during the day, while others are more aggressive at night.

Snakes can crawl across flat surfaces without legs, but they have a mechanism to help them to do this. Snake scales behave like friction hooks, catching in rough places on different surfaces. This helps snakes to move across the ground. The backbone of a snake is made up of several vertebrae that are linked to ribs. Humans have 33 vertebrae and 24 ribs on average. Snakes comprise 200-400 vertebrae and the same number of ribs! That is what makes them so adaptable and allows them to move!

What is snake movement called?

Snakes can travel ahead in a straight line with little to no side-to-side movement because of rectilinear locomotion. This enables snakes to access burrows or other small areas that aren't much bigger than themselves.

Rectilinear locomotion, also known as rectilinear progression, is a movement mechanism that is only associated with snakes. Most snake species, both on land and in water, adopt this serpentine movement. It is a straight, slow, sliding movement.

Snake locomotion is usually just referred to as slithering, and snakes slither when moving from one place to another. Since snakes lack legs, snakes slither to get about. Muscles and scales are all they have. Snakes can move horizontally and vertically even when they don't have limbs, and they can navigate pathways that other limbed creatures can't. Snakes have evolved four different ways of moving to handle various problems and situations, each with its own set of benefits.

When snakes are crossing wide, rugged terrain or traveling through water, they adopt similar side-to-side movement. This is also known as the lateral undulation technique. A steady, straight movement characterizes the snake caterpillar movement, also called a rectilinear movement. Snakes grab the ground via large ventral scales on their stomachs, while pushing forward with other scales. The rippling motion seen in a snake's body while utilizing this sort of movement is similar to that of a caterpillar, which is why it is calld caterpillar movement.

Some snakes may move quickly while only making little contact with the ground by using side-wing movement, which involves bending in waves from either side to side or up and down. The sidewinder snake is able to climb on slippery surfaces by bending its body into a curving S-shape and passing those curves down its body. This appears to help the snake in gaining a strong grip on the surface and moving the body of the snake forward while reducing overall contact time with the hot sand.

Snakes perform a motion termed the concertina movement when they need to ascend or move in confined locations.

Snakes Movement Mechanism

Snakes, unlike other animals, don't have limbs. They move by flexing their bodies, which have a lengthy spine containing approximately 400 ribs.

Snakes can't walk since they don't have legs or arms, therefore they rely on their muscles and specialized scales to get about. They had rear legs about 70 million years, but have since lost them. Back legs are still present in certain snakes, such as pythons and boas. Their legs are hidden in their muscles and are very tiny.

Snakes can climb trees, crawl, and swim because of muscles related to their ribs. They have large belly scales that assist them to grasp different surfaces. Many snakes glide their heads forward by pushing backwards with their ribs and stomach scales, initially on one point and then on the other. Larger snakes may simultaneously press on both sides.

Burrowing and ascending snakes frequently move in accordion-like patterns. A burrowing snake extends the front part of its body out and then draws the back section of the body forward.

Green snake coiled around tree branch.

Why do snakes move in a straight line?

The rectilinear mechanism was only very recently discovered and is the only type that does not suit the original criteria since a snake crawls in a straight path with its anterior part extended. It is characteristic of the species' largest and most voluminous members since it permits them to move through tight spaces in thier hunt fo food.

We have learned a lot about snake locomotion in the last 70 years. Biologist H.W. Lissmann first researched the synchronization of muscular activity and skin movement in snakes in 1950, however we still don't have a complete grasp of rectilinear locomotion. Lissman suggested that a snake's robust muscles and loose, flexible, and spongy belly skin allowed it to scoot forward without having to bend its spine.

Using technology that was unavailable at the time, biologists Bruce Jayne and Steven Newman set out to investigate Lissman's claim. They created an electromyogram (kind of like an EKG) by using high-definition digital cameras and recorded the electrical impulses generated by certain muscles. The two captured high definition footage of boa constrictors crawling across a horizontal surface marked with distance references using boa constrictors. These are big-bodied snakes that normally travel in a straight line across the forest floor. Small dots were also placed on the sides of these snakes to indicate their skins' delicate motions.

A snake skin's mobility is crucial for rectilinear locomotion. The ventral skin (the belly skin) bends significantly more than the skin over the ribs and back as the reptile moves. The skin holds the ground like tire treads on a car, and muscles pull the snake forward in a continuous, seamless motion. The muscles successively activate from the head to the tail, resulting in this smooth movement. For providing traction, the snake extends its belly skin forward, then pulls the spinal column forward. This is done in a repetitive motion.

How are snakes so flexible?

It's easy to assume snakes don't have any bones since they're so flexible. However, snakes do have bones. They have hundreds of them, much more than humans. Snakes' physiques are deadly and flexible since each rib connects to a muscle, yet without their scales, they would struggle to move ahead and would just slide about!

Their interior organs are protected by these bones and powerful muscles. The snake's neck makes up approximately one-third of the snake's body. It results in a very lengthy stomach, which will extend to the size of whatever the snake is consuming, much like the neck.

Bones provide our physique structure and strength. Muscles are related to bones, allowing us to move when we contract them. Snakes require a large number of bones in order to be both strong and flexible. They have a unique head as well as a lengthy spine with hundreds of vertebrae. Vertebrae are the bones that make up our backbones. They also have hundreds of ribs that run the whole length of their bodies to protect their internal organs. Some snakes use constriction to grab and kill their prey. This means they use their bones to tight their powerful, muscular bodies around the animal they've grabbed and squeeze it to death.

Kidadl Team
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Kidadl Team

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