So It Turns Out Snakes Can Fly (Cue Obligatory Snakes on a Plane Punch Line)

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Getty Images/Ryan McVay

Getty Images/Ryan McVay

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s flying snakes! No, really, it is flying snakes.

NewsFeed must apologize to our ophidiophobic (people with a fear of snakes) readers out there, but otherwise we are proud to bring you the “flying snake”. Five species of snake have the potential to remain airborne for up to 79 feet according to scientists who made this slithering announcement at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Long Beach.

(See some more strange things that snakes can do for us in TIME’s Top 10 Odd Spa Treatments.)

The discovery followed after a group of scientists launched the snakes from a 50 foot tower and recorded their movements to test the hypothesis. It soon became apparent that the snakes of the genus Chrysopelea, found in South and South East Asia, used what is known as “gliding flight” to glide to other high points.  Jake Socha, the project leader, told Discovery News that “The snake creates lift using a combination of its flattened cross-sectional shape and the angle that it takes to the oncoming airflow, known as the angle of attack.” This means that the snakes have the potential to actually climb, or in other words, fly under their own strength.

(See more amazing scientific discoveries.)

Despite inspiring terrifying thoughts of hordes of flying snakes this research does apparently have it’s use in further explaining how the rising air currents in the atmosphere are channeled to achieve elevation and the sustained flight of a glide. But we wont be holding our breath for Snake Airways just yet.

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