Leapin' lizards

Bipedal reptiles caught on film hint at locomotion mysteries

Alla Katsnelson
Jun 12, 2008
Darting lizards swing from four-legged to two-legged locomotion like a road bike popping a wheelie, a study published today in Journal of Experimental Biology suggests. "It's a very interesting paper," said Duncan Irschick, a functional morphologist at the University of Massachusetts who did not participate in the research. "People have never understood why lizards run bipedally."For most of us animals who regularly move about on two limbs, this capacity harkens back to some advantageous adaptation; primates make tools, for example, and birds" "forelimbs" have become wings. But scientists have long wondered why lizards -- about half of which can run bipedally -- will temporarily abandon the use of their front legs, because their forelimbs don't seem to have evolved any other functional abilities. Back in the 1950's, one researcher proposed some theories for what kind of evolutionary advantage lizards' bipedalism might have. Having half as many limbs to trip over...

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