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Biancardi et al. - Biomechanics of octopedal locomotion in G. mollicoma

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  • Biancardi et al. - Biomechanics of octopedal locomotion in G. mollicoma

    Biancardi, C. M., C. G. Fabrica, P. Polero, J. F. Loss & A. E. Minetti. Biomechanics of octopedal locomotion: kinematic and kinetic analysis of the spider Grammostola mollicoma. October 15, 2011 Journal of Experimental Biology 214: 3433-3442. doi: 10.1242/​jeb.057471

    Summary. Despite the abundance of octapodal species and their evolutionary importance in originating terrestrial locomotion, the locomotion mechanics of spiders has received little attention so far. In this investigation we use inverse dynamics to study the locomotor performance of Grammostola mollicoma (18 g). Through 3-D kinematic measurements, the trajectory of the eight limbs and cephalothorax or abdomen allowed us to estimate the motion of the body centre of mass (COM) at different speeds. Classic mechanics of locomotion and multivariate analysis of several variables such as stride length and frequency, duty factor, mechanical external work and energy recovery, helped to identify two main gaits, a slow (speed <11 cm s–1) one and a fast one characterised by distinctive 3-D trajectories of COM. The total mechanical work (external + internal) calculated in the present study and metabolic data from the literature allowed us to estimate the locomotion efficiency of this species, which was less than 4%. Gait pattern due to alternating limb support, which generates asymmetrical COM trajectories and a small but consistent energy transfer between potential and kinetic energies of COM, is discussed both in terms of coordination indices and by referring to the octopod as formed by two quadrupeds in series. Analogies and differences of the newly obtained parameters with the allometric data and predictions are also illustrated.
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