Cross winds

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Locomotion of the sidewinder rattlesnake

The crosswinds is a special mode of locomotion , which can be observed especially among the snakes. They move sideways across the sand, always rolling at two points with the entire body. The head is put on and rolled off, the entire body follows it, while the head is already touching down in a new place. In this type of locomotion, the snake only touches the ground with a small part of the body surface. Typical, J-shaped tracks are created in the sand, the longitudinal axes of which form an acute angle to the direction of movement.

Crosswinds are only found as the main form of locomotion in a few desert species that are able to move effectively over the fine-grained sand. These are mainly the sidewinder rattlesnake ( Crotalus cerastes ) in North America, the dwarf puff adder ( Bitis peringueyi ) in the West African Namib and the African horned vipers ( Cerastes ) in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.