By Tim Binnall
For the first time in nearly a century, scientists have discovered a new method of snake locomotion by way of a bizarre climbing method exhibited by a species of the creature living in Guam. The intriguing insight reportedly came about as researchers were looking into the decimation of the bird population after invasive brown tree snakes were introduced to the island's ecosystem decades ago. In the hopes of protecting endangered avian species native to Guam, they theorized that a protective system known as a baffle, which sports a long pole at its center, might do the trick.
However, scientists studying the snakes' reaction to the set-up were astounded by how it managed to overcome the challenge. "Initially, the baffle did work, for the most part," recounted co-author of the study Tom Seibert, "we had watched about four hours of video and then all of a sudden, we saw this snake form what looked like a lasso around the cylinder and wiggle its body up." The technique stunned the research team, he said, "we watched that part of the video about 15 times. It was a shocker. Nothing I'd ever seen compares to it."
The 'lasso locomotion' method constitutes something of a landmark discovery as falls outside of the four movement techniques previously known to be exhibited by snakes. One reason why it may have gone unnoticed until now is that, according to the research team, it appears to be a particularly arduous way of climbing and, as such, might only be used in rare circumstances. Be that as it may, scientists hope that their newfound knowledge of the climbing technique will allow them to return to the original problem which led to the discovery and devise better protective structures for birds threatened by the voracious snakes.