Croaking science is a new way for student volunteers and scientist to explore what’s occurring in the world of Science – science facts, new research or old debates which are inspired by or affect amphibians and reptiles, and then communicate this to a wider audience in their own words. The aim of the feature is to provide a platform for those starting their foray into the world of science communications as well as established scientists. We welcome any submissions from students and scientists. Please note that the views expressed in the articles are not those of the Froglife Trust.
Volunteer Gemma Rate looks into the fun world of ‘What if’ and fantasy for this Croak. Ever wanted to build your own snake? Read on…
Have you ever wondered how snakes can do so well without legs? And can you invent something fantastic? To answer both these questions, you need to imagine you’re a steampunk inventor, at work in a Victorian style workshop. Instead of electronics and plastic, technology is made using gears, wood and lots of shiny brass. It’s also often powered by steam.
You have to build an android snake out of all these gears and pipes; one that can survive outside your workshop. But to do that you need to know what kinds of things it needs and how well it must be adapted to its environment. What are the features that allow it to hunt for food, or avoid detection by predators?
I’ve already designed an example, which you can see below. It has a huge hinge to open its mouth up to 150°, just like a real snake. This ability allows it to swallow its meal whole. It’s also painted to look like an adder for camouflage, and has serrated copper teeth that point backwards in the mouth to help swallow prey.
However, it could be improved. Research what a snake needs and then draw and describe your own! Some ideas are:
- Rubber tongue for sense of smell.
- Venom for some snakes.
- Solar powered to simulate being cold blooded.
- Heat sensitive pits on the snout.
What you can do:
Think about the problems some snakes will face with climate change and global warming…can you design add on’s to help them adapt in a changing world?
- Tweet your photos of your Steam Punk Snakes using #SPSnake @froglifers.
- Add your images to our Facebook album for Steam Punk Snakes coming in January 2014
- Email your photos to Froglife and our public engagement officer Sivi. We’ll put the best ones up on our website
Snakes have inspired all sorts of research, including experiments with robots that move without legs. Have a look at
- A robot snake that could film on Mars.
- A device that can crawl through rubble and tight spaces.