Bio-Mimetic Snake Robots Model the Evolution of Mimetic Aposematism

Project ID: 1499

Cube proposed by: Alison Davis Rabosky

Unit: LSA: Natural Sciences

Cycle: MCubed 2.0

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About this project: 
How do animals avoid predation? Venomous coral snakes in South America use stereotyped postures to display their warning colors (termed aposematism) and deter potential predators. Several non-venomous snakes attempt to deceptively mimic the coral snakes, with varying degrees of success. However, the relative importance of, and interaction between, color and motion in effectively discouraging predators is unclear. To test the biomechanical factors important to predator deterrence, this project aims to use animal kinematics and fiber reinforced elastomeric enclosures (FREEs) to create autonomous, bio-mimetic soft robots capable of generating the full spectrum of snake anti-predator behaviors. These snake robots will be colored to match the range of patterns found in snakes and presented to predators in independent combinations of color and motion. Predator reaction to each combination will provide insight into the evolution of aposematic behavior.