Flying snakes, new research


This video is called Flying Snakes – The Physics Of Snakes That Fly.

From Wildlife Extra:

Flying snakes intrigue scientists

They glide through the air with the greatest of ease…

March 2014: Forget Snakes on a Plane, there are some species of snakes in the world that are at home in the air. Three species of snake in the genus Chrysopelea are known to glide, and one, Chrysopelea paradisi, has even been seen turning in mid-air. They can travel as far as 100ft through the air, jumping off tree branches and rotating their ribs to flatten their bodies and move from side to side.

Animal flight behaviour is an exciting frontier for engineers to both apply knowledge of aerodynamics and to learn from nature’s solutions to operating in the air. Flying snakes are particularly intriguing to researchers because they lack wings or any other features that remotely resemble flight apparatus.

Before you envision flying snakes raining down from the sky, the ones involved in this study are small — about 1m in length and the width of your thumb — and live in the lowland tropical forests of Asia and Southeast Asia.

Virginia Tech Assistant Professor Jake Socha, renowned for his work with flying snakes, recently teamed with Boston University and George Washington University researchers to explore the snakes’ lift and wakes using computer simulations.

Previously, experiments in a wind tunnel had returned an unexpected finding: the snake’s shape is not only good at generating a force of lift, but it also gets an extra boost of lift when facing the air flow at a certain angle.

“After experiments uncovered this, we decided to use computer simulations to try to explain it,” says Lorena Barba, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the George Washington University.

So much of the aerodynamics of animal flight — especially that of flying snakes — remain a mystery. Scale is important, but also the manner in which flight is achieved.

“Rather than fixed wings, animal fliers have flapping wings,” explains Barba. “In the case of gliders, their small scale means they’re always in a flurry of whirling winds. By understanding how they can be graceful and efficient under these conditions, we can in turn use that knowledge to create small flying machines that are equally graceful.”

Whirls of wind can be particularly useful: these little vortices “can give flying snakes an extra lift,” notes Barba. “The shape of the snakes in flight — which is a flattened version of its shape at rest — gets help from little vortices around it.”

Next, the researchers would like to include more elements of the snake’s real gliding conditions into their computer simulations, such as its full body forming an S-shape, rather than working with just a section.

“This will be more difficult to do in a computer model, but it will probably reveal more about the complicated flow patterns snakes take advantage of to be such gifted gliders,” Barba says.

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African snake identification


This video from South Africa says about itself:

7 Feb 2014

In this video, a live puff adder is used to show which physical features to look out for when learning how to identify a puff adder.

See also here.

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Flying snakes flying, video


This video says about itself:

Flying snake gets lift from UFO cross section

29 Jan 2014

The bodily cross-section adopted by flying snakes as they glide is not conventionally aerodynamic — but it provides near unbeatable lift.

Read more here.

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Protect beautiful Mozambique rainforest


This video says about itself:

Discovering Mount Mabu

3 March 2011

Earth Focus: Scientists discover new species of wildlife in Mt. Mabu, a remote forest region in Mozambique that was, until recently, one of the few unexplored places left on Earth. Correspondent Jeffrey Barbee follows a research team to Mt. Mabu reporting on their new finds and explaining why this lost Eden is important for conservation.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Protect the Mozambique forest found on Google Earth, scientists say

Mount Mabu rainforest teeming with new and unique species including pygmy chameleons and bronze-colour snakes

Josh Davies

Friday 3 January 2014 07.00 GMT

A remote rainforest in Mozambique discovered using Google Earth has so many new and unique species that it should be declared a protected area, scientists say.

Pygmy chameleons, a bronzed bush viper and butterflies with shimmering yellow wings are among the species in the forests covering Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique.

Discovered in 2005 by scientists using satellite images, the forests, previously only known to local villagers, have proven to be a rich ecosystem teeming with new species of mammals, butterflies, reptiles, insects and plants. The mountain forests have been isolated from a much larger forest block for millennia, meaning there has been no migration between this site and the next mountain for tens of thousands of years, allowing unique species to evolve in isolation.

One such species is a golden-eyed bush viper with bronze-edged scales (Atheris mabuensis) which Julian Bayliss, a conservation scientist for Kew Gardens, found by stepping on during a survey. His team is also waiting to describe a further two species of snake. A new species of chameleon (Nadzikambia baylissi) has already been described from the site, and the researchers are also describing another. The size of a human palm, with a warm yellow chest, green eyes and a spiky crest along its back, Rhampholeon sp. are commonly known as pygmy chameleons.

Bayliss’s team has identified 126 different species of birds within the forest block, including seven that are globally threatened, such as the endangered spotted ground thrush (Zoothera guttata). There are an estimated 250 species of butterfly, including five which are awaiting to be described, like Baliochila sp., a vibrant specimen which has shimmering yellow wings dusted with black. New species of bats, shrews, rodents, frogs, fish and plants are also waiting to be described.

“The finding of the new species was really creating an evidence base to justify its protection,” explained Dr Bayliss, “and now we’ve got enough to declare a site of extreme biological importance that needs to be a protected area and needs to be managed for conservation.”

In first step to making the forest an internationally recognised protected area – such as a national park – the team have submitted an application to have its importance officially recognised . This “gazetting” application has been accepted on a provincial and national level, but is currently waiting to be signed by the government.

If the application is successful, then the forest will be protected from logging concessions seeking valuable hardwoods currently threatening the mountain.

“The people who threaten Mabu are already there, and really what we’re trying to do now is a race against time towards its conservation. It’s getting there early enough to get the wheels in motion to make it a protected area before it’s too late,” said Bayliss.

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Canada geese and adder, video


This video is about Canada geese and an adder, near Dwingeloo village in Drenthe province, the Netherlands.

Sjaak Timmer made this video in November 2013.

Good Dutch smooth snake news


This is a smooth snake video.

The RAVON herpetologists in the Netherlands report that for the first time since fifty years, smooth snakes have been seen on the Sint Pietersberg mountain near Maastricht.

Compared to other Dutch provinces, there are amphibian species in Limburg which lack elsewhere. On the Sint Pietersberg are also wall lizards not found elsewhere in the Netherlands; and slow worms, which do occur elsewhere. However, there are not as many snakes as in other provinces. Only in the extreme east of Limburg there are a few smooth snakes and grass snakes. To which we can now add the Maastricht smooth snakes, which reproduce.

Adder in the Netherlands, video


This video shows an adder in the Netherlands.

Nick van der Marel made this video.

Good Dutch rare snake news


This video says about itself:

Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)

I found this specimen in the Meinweg in Holland, crossing the road.

The Dutch RAVON herpetologists and Natuurmonumenten conservation organisation report (translated):

Thursday, August 29, 2013

For the first time ever a smooth snake has been observed on the Heumense Schans nature reserve in Molenhoek (Limburg province). Also in recent weeks many smooth snakes have been observed on nearby areas such as the Mookerheide and Mulderskop. This extension of the habitat is due to special management measures from which smooth snakes benefit.

Venomous snakes, video


This video says about itself:

Venom … vipers … vipera.

What do a European Adder and a Death adder have in common?

They’re both featured in the second episode of The Herparazzi: The V Files.

It’s not just about the animals … it’s also about the adventure!