IMPORTANCE OF THE TAIL IN ANOLIS CAROLINENSIS FOR CONTROLLING IN-AIR STABILITY
Vickowski, Flynn Broman
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Anolis carolinensis, a species of arboreal lizard, relies on jumping as its principal form of locomotion. Previous studies suggest the importance of tail movements for stabilizing the body in mid-air in the pitch and roll axes. Caudal autotomy, the intentional self-severing of the tail, is common in these lizards in the wild as a self-defense strategy and means of escape from a predator’s grasp. Given the role of the tail in stabilizing the flight phase of jumping, it is not surprising that a cost of caudal autotomy involves decreased in-flight body control during jumping. I tested if green anoles use their tails to alter body movements in the yaw axis, by comparing tail movements between artificially destabilized animals at room temperature and cooled to ~2°C (where they are unable to actively move their tails). Additionally, I also studied whether lizards alter tail movement behavior after losing 75% of the tail. Results indicate that lizards do not move their tails actively to control for yaw instabilities nor do they modify tail movements following tail loss. This lack of an effect of temperature and behavioral modification suggest that movements of the tail are unimportant in minimizing angular displacements in the yaw plane.