Which came first, the flying saucer or the flying snake?
One of them is copying the other, at least according to The Journal of Experimental Biology, published Wednesday. The research shows that a flying snake flattens out its body into a shape that looks a lot light a flying saucer to get more airtime, NBC News reports.
The snake can’t really fly, but its flattened cross-section gives it the right aerodynamic properties to glide from tree branch to tree branch.
“The shape is unusual,” study co-author Jake Socha told NBC News. “You never find this kind of shape in any other animal flier; you don’t find it in engineered fliers. We didn’t know if that was a good shape to have.”
VIDEO: Flying snake
OK, researchers admitted that we don’t know what, if anything, flying snakes have in common with flying saucers other than their shape. We haven’t yet studied — or found — any real flying saucers. But they also compared the Chrysopelea paradisi to more Earthly machines, like a miniature airplane wing.
Live Science reports that the flying snake can glide at least 79 feet from extreme heights, a move that would be suicidal for most other reptiles. They can be found in several of Southeast Asian countries, like Malaysia and the Philippines, according to Tech Times.
Tech Times also points out seeing a flying snake in action “may be an unnerving sight for most people.” It begs the question: Was this S-shaped UFO in the Netherlands just an errant snake?