Slick and slender snake beats short and stubby lizard in sand swimming

For swimming through sand, a slick and slender snake can perform better than a short and stubby lizard. That’s one conclusion from a study of the movement patterns of the shovel-nosed snake, a native of the Mojave Desert of the southwest United States. The research shows how the snake uses its slender shape to move smoothly through the sand, and how its slippery skin reduces friction – both providing locomotive advantages over another sand-swimmer: the sandfish lizard native to the Sahara Desert of northern Africa. The study provides information that could help explain how evolutionary pressures have affected body shape among sand-dwelling animals. And the work could also be useful in designing search and rescue robots able to move through sand and other granular materials.

Provided by Georgia Tech

Runtime: 1:55

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