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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: A Lizard's Leap
12 January 2012 12:15 am
Anyone who's tried to catch a lizard knows that you usually end up in an undignified sprawl on the ground. How do lizards get the jump on us? Researchers examined Florida scrub lizards (Sceloporus woodi) in their initial movements from a standing start. Two high-speed video cameras captured the reptiles in their first five steps after they were startled with a loud handclap. White dots painted on the reptiles' hind limb joints allowed the scientists to digitally track their movements using computer software. They found that the lizards' limb motions were very different from one stride to the next. A scrub lizard's first stride was a jumping motion—similar to explosive jumping in frogs. They continued to accelerate through the second stride, but by the third stride, their limbs looked more like those of other lizards running at near top speed. In their analysis of individual strides, researchers found that the ankle and toes seemed to be important predictors of acceleration. A finer breakdown of movement may be a better way of understanding abrupt motions like the lizard's standing start.
*This item has been corrected. The ankles and toes are important predictors of acceleration, not the knees.
See more ScienceShots.