Evolutionary biologists Timothy Higham of Clemson and Anthony Russell of Calgary presented their findings in "biology letters" published online Sept. 9th. Their article is titled, "Flip, flop and fly: modulated motor control and highly variable movement patterns of autotomized gecko tails." The Web site is http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/firstcite
"Autotomy is the process by which an appendage is voluntarily shed by animal. A number of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and many invertebrates developed the defense mechanism over time," said Higham. "Some geckos' severed tails can move repeatedly, allowing the gecko to escape and grow a replacement. It's like a gecko's personal injury insurance policy."
Higham and Russell explored how the tail continues to function, using motion to entice a predator while the gecko escapes.
The research shows that a severed – autotomized – tail of leopard gecko makes four to eight rhythmic moves per second with one or two complex movements – dramatic flips or lunges – during the first 50 seconds of its separation.
How does the tail do it? The scientists theorize that central pattern generators in the tail control the actions. Central pattern generators are made up of a network of nerve cells that enable repeatable pattern of behavior, such as chewing, walking, flying.
The gecko study adds to the evidence that central pattern generator networks can function without being linked to a brain or central nervous system. The findings present the prospect that human central pattern generators could play a role in restoring motion to people with spinal injuries.
"The autotomized gecko tail may be an excellent model for understanding the spontaneous activity that is sometimes observed following partial and complete spinal cord injury," conclude Higham and Russell.
Timothy E. Higham | EurekAlert!
Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy