You are not currently logged in.
Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:
If You Use a Screen ReaderThis content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Vertical Burrowing in the Saharan Sand Vipers (Cerastes)
Bruce A. Young and Malinda Morain
Vol. 2003, No. 1 (Feb. 26, 2003), pp. 131-137
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1448605
Page Count: 7
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Preview not available
The sand vipers of the genus Cerastes vertically burrow into the soft sand of the Saharan desert. The mechanics of vertical burrowing in Cerastes cerastes and Cerastes vipera were explored using a combination of morphology, videography, radiography, and experimental manipulation. The results suggest that the key to vertical burrowing is localized unilateral rib abduction. The ribs terminate in expanded calcified costal cartilages, which, when abducted, aid in scraping sand from below the snake and transporting it laterally. The transport of the sand is enhanced by long-axis torsion of the vertebral column. The specialized lateral scales of Cerastes do not appear to function in vertical burrowing.