Lizards commonly move on steep inclines in nature, but no previous studies have investigated whether the kinematics of the limbs of lizards differ on inclined surfaces compared with level surfaces. Therefore, we examined how the kinematics of the hindlimb were affected by both incline (downhill 30 degrees, level and uphill 30 degrees) and different speeds of steady locomotion (50–250 cm s-1) in the morphologically generalized iguanian lizard Dipsosaurus dorsalis. On the uphill surface, the strides of lizards were shorter and quicker than those at a similar speed on the level and downhill surfaces. A multivariate analysis revealed that the kinematics of locomotion on all three inclines were distinct, but several kinematic features of locomotion on the downhill surface were especially unique. For example, downhill locomotion had the lowest angular excursions of femur rotation, and the knee and ankle were flexed more at footfall which contributed to a very low hip height. For D. dorsalis, changes in knee and ankle angles on the uphill surface were similar to those described previously for mammals moving up inclines, despite fundamental differences in limb posture between most mammals and lizards. Several features of the kinematics of D. dorsalis suggest that a sprawling limb enhances the ability to move on inclines.
Effects of incline and speed on the three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of a generalized iguanian lizard (Dipsosaurus dorsalis)
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B.C. Jayne, D.J. Irschick; Effects of incline and speed on the three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of a generalized iguanian lizard (Dipsosaurus dorsalis). J Exp Biol 15 January 1999; 202 (2): 143–159. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.202.2.143
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