So, snakes are pretty cool. But before I really knew anything about them, I heard people call them “slimy.” However, when I first met (and was able to touch) a snake, I found that their scales actually felt dry to the touch. I summarily dismissed sliminess as an insult by those who dislike snakes and moved on. Apparently I was a little too hasty.
Well, I was and I wasn’t.
Scientists have found a surprising explanation for snakes’ effortless slithering: A mind-bogglingly thin coat of fatty lubricant embedded on the snakes’ scales.
Thin really does mean thin. And snakes use this lubricant to keep from getting stuck on things as they drag their bodies along. This discovery points “the way toward new kinds of industrial lubricants and coatings, not to mention improved designs for snake-inspired robots.”
Snake robots. Heck yeah.
So why didn’t we know snakes really were slimy?
Unlike creatures such as snails, which smooth their path by secreting and leaving behind trails of wet lubricant, the snakes’ lubricant stays embedded on the scales themselves, forming a durable, slick layer similar to what keeps our joints lubricated and limber.
And since the snakes’ lubricant doesn’t wipe off, people handling snakes were none the wiser.
Once again, scientists are seeking to imitate nature’s advanced “technology” to get ahead.
Nature has figured it out over millions of years,” says Weidner. “We can try to understand its little secrets.
Check out the article linked at the top for more details. It’s pretty cool.