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DOD Invests in 'Flying Snakes' Research

An unusual breed of Asian snakes has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense. The Chrysopelea snakes are known for their ability to glide through the air over long distances. These "flying snakes" slither through the air, creating an aerodynamic system which allows them to travel from treetop to treetop (a distance of about 780 feet) in their native Southeast Asian environment.

The snakes have baffled researchers for their ability to turn mid-air and instinctively regulate their air speeds. "Basically . . .they become one long wing," says John Socha, the Virginia Tech researcher who has traveled extensively in Asia to study the snakes and to film them.

Socha's research was initially sponsored by the National Geographic Society, but most recently, the DOD's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has footed the bill. This agency is reportedly involved in advanced military technologies of all kinds.

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