Monday, January 4, 2010

Snakes to the rescue

Isn't this advertisement for the Copenhagen Zoo great? You may remember the news in February 2009 that paleontologists digging in Colombia had found fossils of the vertebrae and ribs of a snake that was as long as a city bus!

So far this year, there have been 2 snake stories of note: Firefighters responding to a fire at a 20' trailer in St. George, Utah, had to contend with some unexpected pets. They and animal control officers spent an hour removing 19 snakes from the residence, 11 of which survived. Compare this to the story of a man in Fushun, Liaoning Province, China, who saved the life of a snake that has now returned the favor by rousing him from sleep to alert him and his family of a fire.

But even more interesting is the robotic snake designed at the University of Michigan. The Omnitread serpentine robot can traverse extremely difficult terrain - driving over sand and rocks, climbing over tall obstacles, and passing through small holes - allowing it to assist in the rescue of people from the rubble of a collapsed building.

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