Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What Quails can teach us about the gait of Dinosaurs

09.12.2014

Motion scientists and zoologists of Jena University (Germany) study out the gait of birds

Dinosaurs did it. Human beings and monkey do it. And even birds do it. They walk on two legs. And although humans occupy a special position amongst mammals as they have two legs, the upright gait is not reserved only for man. In the course of evolution many animals have developed the bipedal gait – the ability to walk on two legs.


The motion scientists from Jena University had quails walking through a high speed X-ray installation and measured the power at work in their legs.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU


Dr. Emanuel Andrada from the University in Jena (Germany) analyzed the effect of birds posture on the movement of their legs and on their stability when they walk.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

“Birds are moving forward on two legs as well, although they use a completely different technique from us humans,” Dr. Emanuel Andrada from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) says. Human beings keep their upper bodies generally in an upright position and the body’s center of gravity is directly above the legs.

The bodies of birds on the other hand are horizontally forward-facing, which appears to be awkward at first glance. Hence the motion scientist analyzed – together with colleagues – which effect this posture has on the movement of their legs and on their stability when they walk. The first detailed analysis of its kind has now been published by the scientists in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” (DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1405).

To this end the team had quails walking through a high speed X-ray installation at varying speeds. While the installation monitored the movements of the animals meticulously, the scientists were able to measure the power at work in their legs. From this data, the Jena research team could develop a computer model of the whole motion sequence, which served to simulate and analyze the stability and the energy balance in connection to different gaits.

As it turned out, the birds use the so-called “grounded running” style when they move quickly – this is a running style in which at least one leg is always touching the ground. “Even when running quickly, short periods of flight phases occur only very rarely between the individual steps,” Prof. Dr. Reinhard Blickhan, Chair of Motion Science at Jena University explains. But this is extremely energy consuming for the animals because the body’s center of gravity lies distinctly in front of their legs – due to the horizontal posture. “The animals have to constantly balance out their own bodies in order to prevent falling forwards,” says Blickhan.

But this huge effort is worthwhile as the researchers discovered with the help of their computer model. “Unlike the legs of humans which gather energy like two coil springs and use it directly to move forwards, the bird’s legs work in addition like dampers or shock absorbers.” In order to prevent falling forwards or to permanently accelerate their movement, the birds practically have to brake all the time. This happens while the bird leg is working like a spring damper: Energy is hereby withdrawn from the leg, but the amount of energy is the same that was invested in the hip to stabilize the trunk via the turning moment. “This apparent wasting of energy is the price for a very stable posture during locomotion, especially on an uneven terrain,” Blickhan summarizes the result of this study.

After these newly presented results, the Jena researchers anticipate interesting times ahead. They also want to test the gait of other birds with the help of the computer model they developed. And the scientists even want to analyze the locomotion of dinosaurs – the direct forebears of today’s birds. “It is not clear yet how two-legged species like Allosaurus or Tyrannosaurus Rex really moved forward,” says Dr. Andrada. But it is assumed by now that they also ran with their upper bodies thrust forwards horizontally – due to biomechanical advantages.

Original-Publication:
Andrada E. et al.: Trunk orientation causes asymmetries in leg function in small bird terrestrial locomotion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2014, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1405

Contact:
Dr. Emanuel Andrada
Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology with Phyletic Museum
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Erbertstraße 1, 07743 Jena
Germany
Phone: +0049 (0)3641 949174
Email: emanuel.andrada[at]uni-jena.de


Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: animals computer model gravity leg locomotion movement own bodies upright walk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria
23.05.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels, medicine
23.05.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>