Although many studies have investigated how locomotor capacities change with size, few studies have examined whether different-sized individuals within a species have similar kinematics during locomotion. We quantified the skeletal limb morphology and the three-dimensional kinematics of the hindlimb of four sizes (4–66 g) of the lizard Dipsosaurus dorsalis moving steadily at both the walk-run transition (50 % duty factor) and at a moderately fast speed of 250 cm s(−)(1). We used analyses of variance to test whether limb movements changed with size and to determine whether size and speed had interactive effects on kinematics. The disproportionately long hindlimbs of smaller lizards partly contributed to their relatively greater (i.e. adjusted by snout-vent length) values of linear kinematic variables. Both relative linear and angular kinematics changed significantly with both size and speed, both of which had widespread interactive effects. By having more extension of the knee and ankle joints, and thus a relatively higher hip height during stance, the slow-speed movements of small lizards displayed some of the characteristics of the fast-speed movements in larger lizards. Further, approximately one-fifth and two-fifths of the strides of the two smallest size classes were digitigrade at the lower and higher speeds, respectively, whereas the two largest size classes always had a plantigrade foot posture. Some of the most striking effects of size on kinematics were most evident at the lower of the two speeds. Unlike interspecific studies, which show that the limbs often become more crouched with decreased size, the more extended limbs of smaller lizards in this study suggest that variation in size alone cannot be the causal reason for differences in limb posture.
Size matters: ontogenetic variation in the three-dimensional kinematics of steady-speed locomotion in the lizard Dipsosaurus dorsalis
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D.J. Irschick, B.C. Jayne; Size matters: ontogenetic variation in the three-dimensional kinematics of steady-speed locomotion in the lizard Dipsosaurus dorsalis. J Exp Biol 15 July 2000; 203 (14): 2133–2148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.203.14.2133
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