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Zoology (Jena). 2011 Apr;114(2):104-12. doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2010.11.003.

Posture, speed, and habitat structure: three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of two species of padless geckos.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, 132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.


Differences in habitat use are often correlated with differences in morphology and behavior, while animals in similar habitats often exhibit similarities in form and function. However, this has not been tested extensively among lizards, especially geckos. Most studies of gecko locomotion have focused on the ability to adhere to surfaces. However, there are several species of geckos that have either secondarily lost adhesive capabilities or simply lack the capability. We quantified the three-dimensional locomotor kinematics for two desert-dwelling padless geckos, Teratoscincus scincus and Eublepharis macularius, on a level trackway over a range of speeds. Our results indicate that T. scincus landed with a high relative hip height of 48.7 ± 2.4% of total limb length at footfall, while E. macularius exhibited hip heights averaging only 36.0 ± 1.8% of total limb length for footfall. The three-dimensional knee angle of T. scincus averaged 120.6 ± 3.9° at footfall, while E. macularius averaged only 101.6 ± 1.8° at footfall. In addition, the femur of E. macularius was elevated to a much greater extent (i.e., was closer to being perpendicular to the long axis of the body) than that of T. scincus and every other lizard that has been studied, suggesting they move with a "hyper-sprawled" posture. Both of these gecko species live in deserts, but T. scincus is psammophilic while E. macularius inhabits a rocky, more densely vegetated environment. Benefits of the more upright posture of T. scincus on open sandy habitat may include a greater field of view and more efficient locomotion. The more sprawled posture of E. macularius may lower its center of gravity and aid in balance while climbing on rocks or shrubs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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