Jan 19

A snake has between 100 and 400 vertebrae in his backbone, each of them form a ball-and-socket joint with additional parts that prevent torsion motion of the backbone. The horizontal angle that they can have compared to each other is limited to 10..20 degrees and the vertical angle is limited to 2..3 degrees. All vertebrae’s are the same, the only differ in size.

Lateral undulation is the most frequently used form of snake locomotion for most snakes. All parts of the body move simultaneously, experiencing continuous sliding contact with the ground. During lateral undulation, the snake pushes against minimal three contact points in the environment to facilitate forward movement. Each vertebrae follows the exact same path as the vertebrae in front of it.

A snake uses dynamic friction to move forward, this is not as inefficient as it might first appear. The skin of the snake is very elastic and is made out of highly polished scales which overlap each other with a friction coefficient between 0.3 and 0.4. The scales are pointing backwards providing low forward friction and high backward friction. The scales are not used for “walking”, forward motion is only done by muscle contraction.

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