Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The sport of lizards

20.09.2004


Sporting technology has been used on lizards to watch them run.



The same camera that analysed the bowling action of Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan is being used to study how dragon lizards can escape a bigger, faster predator - the goanna. “It’s all in the running action,” says zoologist, Chris Clemente from the University of Western Australia.

His work has shown that lizards have adapted their locomotion to fit with their habitats. For example, the dragon lizard can swing its leg around in almost a full circle which gives it an advantage in woody habitats with lots of obstacles.


Australia has the highest diversity of lizards in the world. They are a major part of our environment. Yet, despite this rich abundance, we don’t know much about them, says Chris.

Chris is one of 15 early-career scientists presenting their work to the media as part of the national Fresh Science competition. The winner of Fresh Science 2004 will present their research as part of a study tour to the UK, courtesy of British Council.

What’s more, he says, lizards are direct descendents of dinosaurs. “If we understand modern day lizards we may also be able to unlock secrets of the past,” he said. “For example, the ancient seven-metre goannas may have had a more upright style of running making them faster runners than humans.”

Chris is using motion-analysis cameras to create a three dimensional model of the lizards running in virtual space. When combined with information about the habitat and body shape of these lizards, it begins to paint a picture of the lizard world. “We may then be able to use this picture to predict how extinct reptiles moved and what habitat they lived in,” Chris said.

Goannas are a particular focus of his work. An invasion of these lizards from Asia 6 million years ago has resulted in 27 different species spread right across Australia. They can be found living in diverse habitat, from open deserts to tropical rainforest. “They also vary in size. The smallest goannas are about the size of your thumb and the largest stretch over two metres,” he said. “No other group of animals shows such variation in body size, and my research is looking at why this group of lizards has been so successful. “Larger lizards like goannas often hunt smaller lizards like dragons, and my motion research can help predict who would win such a predator-prey survival battle,” he said. “I have found that the larger goannas will outrun the smaller dragons every time. But the dragons often get away because of their greater manoeuvrability.”

Chris got interested in this research after reading about the study of how ostriches run. Being bipedal, the research was comparing their gait with that of humans.

With a passion for lizards, especially the giant lizards from prehistoric times, his honours project began by looking at dragon lizard locomotion. Moving on to goannas for his PhD, he got thinking about who would back in a race – goanna or lizard?

Niall Byrne | alfa
Further information:
http://www.freshscience.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>