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Tail use improves performance on soft substrates in models of early vertebrate land locomotors
McInroe, B.; Astley, H.C.; Gong, C.; Kawano, S.M.; Schiebel, P.E.; Rieser, J.M.; Choset, H.; Blob, R.W.; Goldman, D.I. (2016). Tail use improves performance on soft substrates in models of early vertebrate land locomotors. Science (Wash.) 353(6295): 154-158. hdl.handle.net/10.1126/science.aaf0984
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Terrestrial

Authors  Top 
  • McInroe, B.
  • Astley, H.C.
  • Gong, C.
  • Kawano, S.M.
  • Schiebel, P.E.
  • Rieser, J.M.
  • Choset, H.
  • Blob, R.W.
  • Goldman, D.I.

Abstract
    In the evolutionary transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial environment, early tetrapods faced the challenges of terrestrial locomotion on flowable substrates, such as sand and mud of variable stiffness and incline. The morphology and range of motion of appendages can be revealed in fossils; however, biological and robophysical studies of modern taxa have shown that movement on such substrates can be sensitive to small changes in appendage use. Using a biological model (the mudskipper), a physical robot model, granular drag measurements, and theoretical tools from geometric mechanics, we demonstrate how tail use can improve robustness to variable limb use and substrate conditions. We hypothesize that properly coordinated tail movements could have provided a substantial benefit for the earliest vertebrates to move on land.

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