IMAGES: Snakes Aloft

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Science  15 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5733, pp. 361
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5733.361a

Most snakes get around by crawling, but a few species, such as the paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi; above), take to the air. Learn more about these adventurous serpents at an image-packed site created by postdoc Jake Socha of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Native to southern Asia, the five species of flying snakes can't gain altitude like a bird or bat. Instead, they launch themselves into the air and parachute, flattening their bodies to slow their descent. Herpetologists aren't sure why the snakes adopted the aerial habit—perhaps to avoid predators or pursue prey. The site showcases photos and videos of the reptiles flinging themselves from high perches.

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