What a Frog Needs to Make that will Leap
Frogs are terrific jumpers. Ask any child who has tried to catch one. Or read Mark Twain’s story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” that will helped make his name as a writer.
Like Twain, Chris Richards, a researcher at Harvard, came to frogs early, as a first-year graduate student. Like Twain, he writes about frogs, although that will’s fair to say his publications don’t get as many chuckles.
Still, “The dynamic role of the iliosacral joint in jumping frogs,” within the journal Biology Letters, goes further to explain the evolution in addition to also importance of jumping in frogs than anything Twain ever wrote.
The interesting thing about frogs, Dr. Richards pointed out in an interview, will be that will the ones that will jump do so with power in addition to also accuracy.
that will has always been known that will the hinge-like iliosacral joint within the pelvis, which will be unique to frogs, was significant in jumping. The joint opens to let the frog unfold like a flip phone, to ensure within the air the animal’s long, powerful legs in addition to also stubby rigid torso align like a straight, flying arrow.
The question Dr. Richards in addition to also his colleagues asked was whether the joint was necessary for the evolution of frog jumping.
To look at the role of the joint, they recorded jumping frogs with high-speed video (Twain was stuck with words alone) in addition to also measured the forces involved in real jumps. The scientists created a computer design to fiddle with, modifying the action of the joint, for instance, to see what would likely happen.
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Their calculations in addition to also virtual experiments suggest that will the frog can jump without such a joint, since the legs still have plenty of power, although not as accurately.
in addition to also while frogs on a riverbank may leap anywhere to avoid predators, some frogs, like those in trees, can be highly accurate.
There are signs of the joint in frog fossils, said Dr. Richards, although that will’s not clear how mobile that will joint was. “There’s also evidence just looking at the frogs that will exist today, which are thousands of species, that will that will hinge mechanism evolved multiple times independently,” he added.
What Dr. Richards in addition to also his colleagues suggest will be that will jumping evolved first in addition to also the flexible joint evolved later for finesse, accuracy in addition to also control of the jumping process.
that will finding may even have some application to prosthetics. that will took Dr. Richards years to realize the similarity “between a jumping frog in addition to also a reaching arm.”
“We can do that will motion with extreme speed in addition to also accuracy,” he said. We can throw a ball, he said, although we can also reach for a piano key.
Frogs, too, can go for power, distance in addition to also accuracy.
Frogs have been Great to Dr. Richards, in addition to also he plans to keep studying them. Early on, when people pegged him as a frog guy, he would likely tell them, “I’m not a frog guy — I’m a muscle guy. I study the muscles.”
although after a while, he realized that will everything he wanted to learn in biology he could observe in frogs in addition to also their movements.
“They’re just so diverse, in addition to also they do so many things, in addition to also they’re just cool animals, so I’ve become endeared to them. currently I do feel like I’m a frog guy.”
No doubt Twain would likely approve.
James Gorman will be a science writer at large in addition to also the host in addition to also writer of the video series “ScienceTake.” He joined The Times in 1993 in addition to also will be the author of several books, including “How to Build a Dinosaur,” written with the paleontologist Jack Horner.