Scientists have come up with a snake that has legs, and it is a robot. One science vlogger has claimed, giving them their legs “back.”
In a newly released video, creator and self-professed snake lover Allen Pan said that he “feel[s] bad for snakes” because “they lost their legs” to evolution. That is why he ended up making a robotic exoskeleton for them in to help them “find” their lost legs.
This resulted in an amazingly goofy 3D-printed exoskeleton that let one lucky python strut around with commendable confidence.
Pan pointed to the fact that snakes’ legs aren’t entirely absent. They exist while snakes are in utero, and when they’re born, they still have vestigial leg-like structures.
“It turns out that snakes do have two legs when they’re embryos,” the vlogger said, “but their DNA is all messed up so the genes that are supposed to grow two legs, uh, grow two penises instead.” (This is true.)
“They can’t walk on those,” he added.
The initial try resulted in too much snake drooping. Afterward, Pan settled on a 2.0 version of the exoskeleton with four legs — two in front and two in back, which is like the Western three-toed skink, a lizard with four teeny tiny legs. It comprised a long tube that snakes could conveniently get in and out of as they pleased. Unfortunately, the snake doesn’t yet decide where the robot walks, though Hackaday speculated about how that could be achieved as well.
To test the rig, Pan reached out to a snake handler and breeder who goes by the handle “Granddaddy Herp” and was able to get a large and beautiful yellow ball python into the prosthetic and zooming around on the legs. That was enough to convince Pan that snakes do, indeed, “want their legs back.”
“I cannot get over the image of the snake crawling into its robotic exoskeleton,” the science vlogger said.