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Saccadic head rotations during walking in the stalk-eyed fly (Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni)

By Gal Ribak, Alison R. Egge and John G. Swallow


In stalk-eyed flies (Diopsidae), the eyes are positioned at the end of rigid peduncles protruding laterally from the head. Sexual selection for eye span in male Cyrtodiopsis dalmanni results in eye span that exceeds body length and exceeds the eye span of females. We studied whether the twofold higher moment of inertia (MOI) of the male head results in a reduced head rotation velocity during turning. We analysed films of flies performing walking turns and compared the head kinematics between the sexes. The significance of head rotation to turning was evaluated from the turning kinematics of flies with immobilized (glued) heads. Male and female C. dalmanni rotated their heads relative to the surrounding environment 1.55-fold (male) and 1.65-fold (female) faster than the angular velocity of the body by performing rapid head saccades. During the larger turns, flies with immobilized heads were unable to reorient gaze as fast as the control flies. Despite the larger MOI of the head, male C. dalmanni match the head saccade of females suggesting that eye span elongation is coupled by an adaptation of the neck apparatus to rotate the wider head

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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