Undulatory locomotion

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Definition

Snake motion.
Schematic of lateral undulation locomotion for a snake (the black dots indicate the location of inflection points and the thick line illustrate the pattern and amplitude of muscle activity. (From "Limbless undulatory propulsion on land" (Guo & Mahadevan 2008).)

Undulatory locomotion is movement via propagating waves with the most tangible example being that of limbless creatures (e.g. snakes) on land or water. The lateral (side-ways) forces brace the animal's body (the motion in each lateral direction cancels itself out) against the substrate thus allowing the in-plane forces to propel it in a forward. Viscoelasticity plays an important role both in the mechanics of the muscular tissue and how the animal's body responds to its environment.

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