Record Details

Higham, Timothy E;Jayne, Bruce C
Locomotion of lizards on inclines and perches: hindlimb kinematics of an arboreal specialist and a terrestrial generalist
The Journal of Experimental Biology
Journal Article
Dipsosaurus dorsalis
Arboreal animals, especially lizards, often traverse three-dimensional networks of narrow perches with variable and steep inclines, but the effects of both incline and narrow surfaces on the locomotor movement and function of limbs are poorly understood. Thus, we quantified the three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of a specialized arboreal lizard, Chamaeleo calyptratus, moving horizontally, and up and down a 30° incline on a narrow (2.4 cm) perch and a flat surface. We compared the flat-surface data of C. calyptratus with those of an anatomically generalized terrestrial lizard, Dipsosaurus dorsalis. Inclines had significant main effects for relatively few kinematic variables of C. calyptratus (11%) compared to D. dorsalis (73%). For C. calyptratus, the main effects of locomotor surface were nearly three times more widespread than those of incline. The foot of C. calyptratus was markedly anterior to the hip at footfall, primarily as aresult of an unusually extended knee for a lizard. A large amount of knee flexion during early stance may be used by C. calyptratus to actively pull the body forward in a manner not found in D. dorsalis. Unexpectedly, the pelvic rotation of C. calyptratus greatly exceeded that of D. dorsalis and, unlike D. dorsalis, was not affected by incline. The more medial location of the foot of C. calyptratus on the narrow perch during stance was primarily a result of knee flexion rather than femur depression. Unlike previous qualitative descriptions of chameleons, our data for the hindlimb posture of C. calyptratus during stance indicate that the limb was not particularly erect.