The goal of the present study was to test the hypothesis that maximum running speed is limited by how much mechanical power the muscular system can produce. To test this hypothesis, two species of lizards, Coleonyx variegatus and Eumeces skiltonianus, sprinted on hills of different slopes. According to the hypothesis, maximum speed should decrease on steeper uphill slopes but mechanical power output at maximum speed should be independent of slope. For level sprinting, the external mechanical power output was determined from force platform data. For uphill sprinting, the mechanical power output was approximated as the power required to lift the center of mass vertically. When the slope increased from level to 40 degrees uphill, maximum speed decreased by 28% in C. variegatus and by 16% in E. skiltonianus. At maximum speed on a 40 degrees uphill slope in both species, the mechanical power required to lift the body vertically was approximately 3.9 times greater than the external mechanical power output at maximum speed on the level. Because total limb mass is small in both species (6-16% of body mass) and stride frequency is similar at maximum speed on all slopes, the internal mechanical power output is likely to be small and similar in magnitude on all slopes. I conclude that the muscular system is capable of producing substantially more power during locomotion than it actually produces during level sprinting. Thus, the capacity of the muscular system to produce power does not limit maximum running speed.
JOURNAL ARTICLE| 01 August 1997
Maximum speed and mechanical power output in lizards.
C T Farley
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3140, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Online Issn: 1477-9145
Print Issn: 0022-0949
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C T Farley; Maximum speed and mechanical power output in lizards.. J Exp Biol 1 August 1997; 200 (16): 2189–2195. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.200.16.2189
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