A new study shows that a particular breed of snakes in Southeast Asia can fly over short distances, and social media has dubbed this the latest uncanny headline of 2020. The scientific journal Nature Physics published new findings on the paradise tree snake, which can reportedly glide over shockingly long distances. Twitter had plenty of jokes poised to strike on this news.
The "flying snakes" of Southeast Asia have been a bit of a mystery to scientists until Monday when the findings of a research team from Virginia Tech were published. They found that the chrysopelea paradisi — paradise tree snake — used a technique called "aerial undulation" to glide through the air, making it look to a bystander as if they are flying without wings. These serpents have reportedly evolved with a modified version of the undulating motion that most snakes use on the ground, coupled with a wide-flat body and an instinct for aerodynamics.
The effect is a nightmare come to life for many people. Headlines and photos of the paradise tree snake made the rounds on social media this week, standing out even amid the crowded news cycle. Many joked that they could not be surprised by anything anymore, having seen a global pandemic, murder hornets, police violence and nationwide protests all in just a few months.
Virality aside, the new research on paradise tree snakes is the culmination of 20 years of work for some of the scientists on this team. While it is "a big step forward" in terms of science, it does not represent a threat to the average person. Paradise tree snakes are confined to specific parts of Asia. Of course, that did not stop Twitter from having some fun with this headline. Here's a look at how the "flying snakes" became the latest terror of 2020 this week.
I can take a lot of things. But come on. Ill give you the shed, the chicken coop, laying on the road, I’ll even accept in the water. But attacking from the air? No shot! Snakes need to be cancelled. https://t.co/xvHjZEKob1— Shawn Stiffler (@ShawnStiffler29) July 1, 2020
Snakes off a Plane
Flying snakes| Snakes can 'fly'! It's not on plane, researchers find how they glide through air | Trending & Viral News https://t.co/CRupmNv4KK— Vivek Kumar Nair (@VivekKumarNair2) July 1, 2020
1 thing after anotherhttps://t.co/jKX9HbasAT— Mayor of Fraggle Rock-15th Term (@msapking) July 1, 2020
Flying snakes?! Alright 2020, calm down! > > https://t.co/0gauXArUgJ— Haley Baker (@HaleyBakerWAFF) July 1, 2020
This is how snakes can “fly”, scientists reveal – Noticias Ya https://t.co/TaiLVCrz6c— Devin Penaz (@DevinPenaz) July 1, 2020
There’re snakes that can fly but some people will steal fear flying cockroaches more https://t.co/4VyE8wzGRM— norman 𓅓 (@normanbaguma33) July 1, 2020
So pigs don’t fly… but snakes do, and now scientists know how — RT World News https://t.co/7YwMzp0Rm3— Alex Solvo (@solvo_alex) July 1, 2020
Discovery is always fascinating
Even if by snakes, incubated.
roses are red— josé "melanin sufficient" morales (@modernjam) July 1, 2020
oh june's over? wow pic.twitter.com/Itna1Bnxqe