The snake Chrysopelea paradisi, lives in Southeast Asia and glides between tree branches. [Read: Flying Snake Morphs Into UFO Shape to Glide]
The snake's gliding abilities are no match for a bird's, but they compare pretty well to those of flying squirrels, ants and lizards.
To get airborne, the snakes grasp a tree branch with their tail, then launch upwards.
They also seem to curl up and splay their ribs out to flatten their bodies, while undulating in the air.
A flying paradise tree snake, Chrysopelea paradisi.
Looked at in cross section, their flattened bodies resemble UFOs or rounded triangles, a shape that isn't typically found in engineered or natural flying objects.
To see why the snakes flattened out, researchers at Virginia Tech made a 3-D model of the snake and put it into a flow chamber. The shape was surprisingly aerodynamic.
Now, the researchers need to find out why the snake undulates as it glides.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.