Secret behind salamander's 'gravity-defying jump' revealed
A graduate researcher has shed light on salamander's "unique" jump that defies laws of gravity and the fact that humans can develop entirely new ways of getting off the ground based on the new study.
Anthony Hessel from Northern Arizona University calls the move a "hip-twist jump" that powers a "flat catapult," describing the biomechanics in language the public can access.
Hessel, who studies muscle physiology and biomechanics, said that it's a new way to get vertical lift for animals, and if something that is flat on the ground that is not pushing directly down on the ground, can still get up in the air.
Hessel used high-speed film, a home-built cantilever beam apparatus, some well-established engineering equations and biomechanical analysis to produce the details of how a slippery little amphibian with short legs can propel itself six to 10 times its body length into the air.
The key is that the salamander's legs don't provide the push that most creatures would require.
Hessel explained that they transfer energy from their torso into the ground in a very special way and it's all about how the energy is transferred into the ground efficiently.
In describing the movement frame-by-frame from the high-speed film, Hessel said the salamander bends its body, then rapidly pushes that bendaEuro"a "C" shape, down through the torsoaEuro"and this movement can "create a lot of elastic energy."
One of the interesting things about the salamander is that the mechanism moves the center of mass in a way that allows this really inefficient-looking mechanism to have a lot of efficiency, Hessel said.
(Posted on 26-01-2014)
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