Principles Governing the Mechanics and Control of Snake Strikes
Technical Report,01 Jul 2014,31 Mar 2015
GEORGIA TECH RESEARCH CORP ATLANTA ATLANTA United States
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Highly impulsive movements are some of the most extreme and mechanically challenging examples of animal movement, employing high forces and powers to achieve spectacular accelerations and velocities of all or part of the animals body. The strikes of snakes are one of the most remarkable impulsive movements in animals combining the characteristics and challenges of both feeding and locomotive impulsive motions. Snakes must rapidly accelerate a large fraction of their body mass using an extremely complex musculo-skeletal system in order to accurately strike a small, potentially evasive target with an impact sufficient for prey capture but without damaging their lightly-built skull. Although the performance, ecology, and kinematics of strikes have been examined previously, the underlying mechanics producing these motions have never been examined. We propose to investigate the mechanics of snake striking, within and across the diverse species available to us through our collaboration with Zoo Atlanta. In this exploratory project we will monitor kinematics, ground reaction forces and strike forces in snakes to gain insight into common principles governing mechanics and control of strikes. We expect that discovery of important features of such strikes will be useful to inform physics of impulsive locomotor control.