The inter-joint coordination in leg 4 of the crayfish Procambarus clarkii was investigated while they travelled freely along straight paths. Video analysis of the kinematics of the leg's three-dimensional motion, combined with a statistical method based on conjugate cross-correlation functions, showed stable inter-joint coordination in the leg kinematics. In particular, the inter-joint coordination involved a strong movement in the distal mero-carpopodite (M-C) joint occurring between the movements of the proximal thoraco-coxopodite and coxo-basal joints; thus, the leg extended during the swing phase and flexed during the stance phase. This synchronisation was mainly independent of global changes in the locomotor pattern induced by variation in speed or contralateral inter-leg coupling which occurred during free walking. The main changes in inter-joint coordination were found to be related to the appearance of a biphasic flexion/extension movement during each stroke of the step cycle when the leg retracted far backwards. This movement was observed more frequently in large animals and was therefore possibly related to changes in postural control. The functional role of this distal M-C joint movement in the leg motion is discussed.

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