Jumping the Tail

Grabbing a parasite by the tail: Team solves 'jumping gene' mystery
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This remarkable ability has evolved multiple times within lizards and different species exhibit a range of mechanisms enabling tail loss, such as fracture planes between or within vertebrae, and a host of modifications to other tail tissues, including blood vessels and musculature Etheridge, After separation, the muscles of the autotomized tail can continue to contract and these movements act to distract a predator long enough for the lizard to escape Dial and Fitzpatrick, ; Naya et al.

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Although the immediate benefits of caudal autotomy are obvious, potential costs are numerous, if less clear, and may include energetic constraints Ballinger and Tinkle, ; Congdon et al. For many lizards, particularly arboreal species, jumping is a locomotor mode frequently used for habitat navigation, capturing prey and evading predators Irschick and Losos, ; Losos and Irschick, ; Moermond, ; Pounds, However, no studies have examined the potential costs of caudal autotomy in relation to jumping, despite a number of detailed studies examining the kinematics and kinetics of jumping lizards e.

Work by Higham and colleagues demonstrated the use of tail movements in relation to in-air body turning during jumping in various anole species Higham et al. We hypothesized that tails are essential for in-air body movement and coordination in lizards and that autotomy would have detrimental effects on jumping behavior. We tested for the effects of tail loss on jumping in the arboreal green anole Anolis carolinensis , Voigt by using high-speed video to compare takeoff, in-air and landing kinematics of animals before and after experimental tail removal.

We measured simple jump kinematics body angle, tail base angle as well as several common measures of jump performance on the same set of lizards before and after tail removal. We focused on three key aspects of performance jump distance, takeoff duration and takeoff velocity that are likely to be important to green anoles when evading a predator Toro et al.

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Using cloud computing and data from weather radar stations across the continental United States, Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers can now estimate how many birds migrate through the U. Lizards were given a surface to grasp while the tail was tugged until it was dropped. Ultrasound avoidance by flying antlions Myrmeleontidae. The findings could help lead to new strategies for inhibiting the movement of the parasite, called a LINE-1 retrotransposon. Using the coordinates overlying the pectoral and pelvic girdles, we calculated body angle relative to the horizontal in each of the saved frames throughout the jump Fig.

Animals were numbered on their ventral surface using permanent marker and housed in pairs in glass aquaria. Tanks were furnished with sticks and plastic leaves, which were sprayed with tap water twice daily. Lizards were fed 4—6 mealworms 2—3 times each week and provided with a 12 h: All jumping events took place within a cardboard arena with raised edges to reduce the likelihood of lizard escape. Jumping trials consisted of placing a lizard onto a platform constructed out of a small cardboard box with the jumping surface covered with fine sandpaper.

Once on the platform, lizards generally walked to the edge facing the landing area and were encouraged to jump using hand movements or by tapping the platform or their tail.

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Doing Without: Jump Performance After Tail Autotomy in Three Species of Plethodontid. Salamanders. ANTHONY L. HESSEL. 1,3,4, WILLIAM G. RYERSON. Physiol Biochem Zool. Nov-Dec;86(6) doi: / Epub Oct The impact of tail loss on stability during jumping in green anoles.

A mirror placed at 45 deg. Individual lizards were allowed to jump from the platform to the landing area for approximately 5 min and each jump was saved onto a personal computer as an AVI file. The four longest and straightest jumps from each lizard were identified and used for kinematic analysis. Twenty-four hours following these initial jumps, tails were manually removed from the same six individuals.

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Lizards were given a surface to grasp while the tail was tugged until it was dropped. Lizards then rested for approximately 5—10 mins before post-autotomy jump trials began. Again, animals were encouraged to jump for several minutes and the four longest and straightest jumps were identified from each lizard after tail loss for kinematic analysis.

In total, 48 jumping movies were analyzed, four from each of the six lizards before and after tail removal. To analyze in-air body movements during jumping, every fourth frame from each of the movies was saved from takeoff to landing.

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From the lateral perspective, the lizards' snout tip, pectoral girdle, center of trunk, pelvic girdle, vent and tail marks were digitized in each frame with the custom-digitizing program Didge courtesy of Alistair Cullum, Creighton University, Omaha, NE, USA. Using the coordinates overlying the pectoral and pelvic girdles, we calculated body angle relative to the horizontal in each of the saved frames throughout the jump Fig.

In addition, in the 20 frames preceding takeoff in each movie, the front edge of the mark at the center of the trunk was digitized, and by dividing the distance traveled by that mark by the time between frames, the body's instantaneous velocity between each pair of frames was calculated and smoothed using a 5-point running average to determine velocity throughout the takeoff phase. We chose 20 frames because in all jumps, this interval included the majority of the takeoff phase; ultimately we chose only to analyze the instantaneous velocity at takeoff i.

Finally, the distance traveled during each jump was determined by calculating the horizontal distance traveled by the mark at the center of the trunk between takeoff and landing.

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Measured distances between the points on each lizard's body were used for scale. To test for the effects of tail loss on jumping we used two-way, mixed-model analyses of variance ANOVA on several variables of interest: Presence or absence of the tail was a fixed factor; individual was a random factor.

The fixed factor was tested over the interaction mean square whereas the random factor and interaction term were tested over the error mean square. Jumping in Anolis lizards is generally stereotyped and our animals exhibited the same basic movements described by Bels and colleagues Bels et al. Jumps typically began with preparatory limb movements to position the hindfeet as far forward as the forefeet. This was followed by takeoff, which was propelled entirely by the hindlimbs, then an aerial phase and finally, a landing phase when the animal's limbs re-established contact with the substrate.

Method for measuring body and tail base angle during jumping. Body angle was measured relative to the horizontal using a line connecting points on the lateral surface of the animal's body at the level of the pectoral and pelvic girdles. Before tail removal, animals took off at an average velocity of 1. Horizontal jump distances ranged between F -values with associated significance levels for different jump variables comparing lizards before and after tail removal.

The importance of the tail was obvious; however, only once the animals took off and their limbs left the ground. Indeed, half of the recorded jumps for lizards without tails ended with animals landing with body angles greater than 45 deg. To better understand the possible role of the tail we also characterized tail base kinematics during jumping.

The movement of the tail base during takeoff was very consistent in tailed lizards and in all jumps animals rapidly elevated the base of the tail throughout the takeoff phase. Following this and during most of the aerial phase, the tail generally underwent little active movement, although it was often the first part of the animal to touchdown during landing, leading to a change in the angle between the body and tail base near the end of the jump Fig.

Four key jump variables takeoff velocity, takeoff duration, takeoff angle and jump distance do not differ significantly between lizards before and after tail removal. Following the removal of most of the tail, lizards still underwent a consistent pattern of raising what remained of the tail during the takeoff phase.

How Do I Jump On A Hardtail?

Despite the widespread capacity for caudal autotomy among diverse lizards and the common use of jumping, particularly in arboreal species, to our knowledge no studies have directly examined the effects of tail loss on jumping behavior. Our a priori prediction that tail removal would affect jumping in green anoles was supported; tailless lizards exhibited significant levels of posterior rotation of the body in mid-air Movies 1 and 2 in supplementary material ; Fig. Previous work on the kinematics of jumping in A.

After takeoff, lizards travel maximum distances of 20—50 cm before landing Bels et al. Larger lizards have longer maximal jumps Bels et al. Body angles during jumping before and after tail removal. A Movie stills taken from the same lizard before and after tail removal at five points during a jump: White lines are drawn to highlight the orientation of the body and tail base.

B Mean body angles, relative to the horizontal, from all jumps in all lizards. Thus, as during running, the loss of a large fraction of the tail also has significant effects on jumping behavior in lizards. However, unlike in running, tail removal has little effect on performance, as traditionally measured by takeoff duration and jump distance, as animals jumped similar distances and used similar amounts of time to takeoff before and after tail removal Fig. Jump distance is not affected by tail removal because the tail probably plays no active role in propulsion during jumping in A.

Furthermore, because the takeoff provides all of the power for jumping Marsh, , it makes sense that animals jumped similar distances given their similar takeoff kinematics.

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They're studying how Alu interacts with ORF2p, and how the use of a replacement for the poly A tail may be helpful in other research. They're also interested in how the cell, or host, fights off jumping genes and protects DNA from damage. A civil war inside our cells: Scientists show how our bodies fight off 'jumping genes'. Molecular Cell , dx. There's a civil war going on inside every one of the 37 trillion cells in your body.

Now, University of Michigan scientists have uncovered how your cells keep this war from causing too much collateral damage. Scientists have discovered a previously unknown wellspring of genetic diversity in humans, chimps and most other primates. This diversity arises from a new component of itinerant sections of genetic code known as jumping DNA within reproductive cells is protected through a clever system of find and destroy: Organisms from bacteria to humans must defend themselves against parasitic genetic elements called transposons, and the stakes are high.


These pieces of DNA, which disrupt genes by jumping around in the genome, can cause Using a new method to catch elusive "jumping genes" in the act, researchers have found two human proteins that are used by one type of DNA to replicate itself and move from place to place. The discovery, described in the Because of their ability to move around the genome, these "jumping genes" are considered as real motors of evolution. Stanford researchers have shown that bacteria involved in urinary tract infections UTI rely on a novel chemical form of the molecule cellulose to stick to bladder cells.

A new analysis is shedding light on the earth's first macroscopic animals: Its immediate benefit, generally escape from a predator, is balanced by various costs, including impaired locomotor performance, reproductive success and long-term survival. Among vertebrates, autotomy is most widespread in lizards, in which tail loss has been documented in close to species. Despite numerous studies of the potential costs of tail autotomy in lizards, none have focused on the importance of the tail in jumping. Several key performance metrics, including jump distance and takeoff velocity, were not affected by experimental tail removal, averaging 21 cm and cm s -1 , respectively, in both tailed and tailless lizards.

However, in-air stability during jumping was greatly compromised after tail removal.