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Data from: Geckos significantly alter foot orientation to facilitate adhesion during downhill locomotion

By Aleksandra V. Birn-Jeffery and Timothy E. Higham


Geckos employ their adhesive system when moving up an incline, but the directionality of the system may limit function on downhill surfaces. Here, we use a generalist gecko to test whether limb modulation occurs on downhill slopes to allow geckos to take advantage of their adhesive system. We examined three-dimensional limb kinematics for geckos moving up and down a 45° slope. Remarkably, the hind limbs were rotated posteriorly on declines, resulting in digit III of the pes facing a more posterior direction (opposite to the direction of travel). No significant changes in limb orientation were found in any other condition. This pes rotation leads to a dramatic shift in foot function that facilitates the use of the adhesive system as a brake/stabilizer during downhill locomotion and, although this rotation is not unique to geckos, it is significant for the deployment of adhesion. Adhesion is not just advantageous for uphill locomotion but can be employed to help deal with the effects of gravity during downhill locomotion, highlighting the incredible multi-functionality of this key innovation

Topics: adhesive system, gecko, inclines, declines
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.5061/dryad.mb180
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