In a paper published February 3 in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, Gillis shows that toads, like humans, are capable of anticipating when and how hard they’re going to land after a jump and activating muscles important in absorbing impact accordingly.
The paper, titled "Do Toads Have a Jump on How Far They Hop...," was co-authored by Gillis and two Mount Holyoke undergraduates, Trupti Akella '09 and Rashmi Gunaratne '10.
Until now, such prescient limb muscle activity has only been demonstrated in mammals, but Gillis and his team showed that hopping toads can alter both the intensity and timing of activity in muscles used to stabilize their forelimbs on impact. In long hops, when impact forces are known to be higher, elbow muscles exhibited more intense activity just prior to landing than during short hops. In addition, one major elbow muscle was always activated at a fixed interval prior to landing in all hops, regardless of distance, suggesting that toads not only gauge how hard they’re going to hit the ground, but also anticipate precisely when that will happen.
“We believe this data represents the first demonstration of tuned pre-landing muscle use in anurans (frogs and toads)," said Gillis. "It raises questions about how widespread this ability is among other species and how important feedback from various sensory systems--e.g., vision--is for mediating this ability."
This coming summer, Gillis and his students will be conducting similar experiments on different species of frogs to determine if their findings are unique to toads or common in anurans. They will also be making a blindfold for toads so they can test Gillis's hypothesis that vision is necessary for these animals to anticipate the timing and magnitude of impact.
Gillis, who has been a member of the College faculty since 2002, specializes in research on the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of animal locomotion.
Related Links:Faculty profile
Gary B. Gillis | Newswise Science News
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences