Bipedal rodents employ jumps, hops and skips to survive in desert
Washington: Researchers have found that bipedal desert rodents are able to co-exist with their quadrupedal counterparts by employing a diverse set of jumps, hops and skips.
Talia Moore headed research at Harvard University analysed jerboas` bipedal locomotion.
She said that bipedal jerboas and quadrupedal jirds share the same habitat, predators, food source, and active hours and it appears that their different forms of locomotion create differing predator evasion abilities, allowing jerboas to forage further from their burrows, thus limiting interspecific competition.
She explained that in this way these Old World desert rodents are able to occupy different niches.
The researchers found that bipedal desert rodents move with highly unpredictable trajectories, while sympatric quadrupedal desert rodents move in much more predictable trajectories.
This study involved using inverse dynamics to calculate the forces exerted by bipedal jerboas when jumping vertically, as well as the relative contributions of individual muscles and tendons to the jump.
The researchers collected trajectories of bipedal jerboas and sympatric quadrupedal jirds in the field to quantify the maximum performance and predictability of the escape behaviour of these species in natural conditions.
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