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 prey evolve to deter predation (aposematism)? Venomous coral snakes in South America display stereotyped postures to display their warning colors to deter potential predators. Several non-venomous snakes attempt to mimic the coral snakes, with varying degrees of success. It is currently unknown how effectively incomplete behavioral and color mimicry deters predators. To determine 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 mimicry behaviors. These snake robots will eventually be colored to match the range of patterns found in the snake mimics and presented to the predators of coral snakes. The predator’s reaction to each combination of color and behavior will provide insight into the evolution of aposematic behavior.