Tail responses facilitate lizard reorientation during directed aerial maneuverability

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S5-4  Tue Jan 5 11:30 – 12:00  Tail responses facilitate lizard reorientation during directed aerial maneuverability Siddall, R; Ibanez, V; Byrnes, G; Full, RJ; Jusufi, A*; Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems; UZH and MPI for Intelligent Systems; Siena College; Univ. of California, Berkeley; Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems ardian@is.mpg.de https://bio.is.mpg.de/person/ardian

Arboreal animals face numerous challenges when negotiating complex three dimensional terrain. Directed aerial descent and gliding flight allows for rapid traversal of arboreal environments, but presents control challenges. Some animals, such as birds or gliding squirrels, have specialized structures to modulate aerodynamic forces while airborne. However, many arboreal animals do not possess these specializations but still control posture and orientation in mid-air. One of the largest inertial segments in lizards is their tail. Inertial reorientation can be used to attain postures appropriate for controlled aerial descent. Here we discuss the role of tail inertia in a range of mid-air reorientation behaviors using experimental data from geckos in combination with general mathematic and physical models. Geckos can self-right in mid-air by tail rotation alone. Equilibrium glide behavior of geckos in a vertical wind tunnel show that they can steer towards a landing surface using rapid, circular tail rotations to control pitch and yaw. Multiple coordinated tail responses are required for the most effective terminal velocity gliding. A mathematical model allows us to explore the relationship between morphology and the capacity for inertial reorientation by conducting sensitivity analyses. Physical models further define the limits of performance and generate new control hypotheses. Such comparative analysis allows predictions about the diversity of performance across a range of lizard morphologies and provides insights into the evolution of aerial behaviors.

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