Lateral undulation of the flexible spine of sprawling posture vertebrates

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Sprawling posture vertebrates have a flexible spine that bends the trunk primarily in the horizontal plane during locomotion. By coordinating cyclical lateral trunk flexion and limb movements, these animals are very mobile and show extraordinary maneuverability. The dynamic and static stability displayed in complex and changing environments are highly correlated with such lateral bending patterns. The axial dynamics of their compliant body can also be critical for achieving energy-efficient locomotion at high velocities. In this paper, lateral undulation is used to characterize the bending pattern. The production of ground reaction forces (GRFs) and the related center of mass (COM) dynamics during locomotion are the fundamental mechanisms to be considered. Mainly based on research on geckos, which show unrestricted movement in three-dimensional space, we review current knowledge on the trunk flexibility and waveforms of lateral trunk movement. We investigate locomotion dynamics and mechanisms underlying the lateral undulation pattern. This paper also provides insights into the roles of this pattern in obtaining flexible and efficient walking, running, and climbing. Finally, we discuss the potential application of lateral undulation patterns to bio-inspired robotics.

TidsskriftJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Sidetal (fra-til)1-13
StatusUdgivet - 2018