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Zebra-tailed lizard running fast

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Uploaded on Apr 29, 2008

Many species of lizards are built like little dragsters. They can accelerate very quickly from a standstill and reach high speed, but they can't sustain high speed very long. Dr. Bruce Jayne of the University of Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) shot this high-speed (250 images per second) video of a zebra-tailed lizard running on a treadmill while performing experiments to understand better how variation in the morphology and behavior of lizards affects running speed. This species of lizard has very large feet, and when it runs faster it extends the ankle, which gives it a greater effective limb length that enhances running speed. Somewhat unexpectedly, the maximum running speeds of this and some closely related lizards differed little between bipedal and quadrupedal running. In this video the lizard, which had a body length of only about 10 cm, had spurts of speed greater than 5.3 meters per second (more than 50 body lengths per second!!).

For more information read:
Irschick, D.J. & B.C. Jayne. (1999). A comparative analysis of three-dimensional kinematics of the hindlimb for high-speed bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion in lizards. J. Exp. Biol. 202: 1047-1065.

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