Werner Baumgartner, Agnes Weth,
"Investigating the locomotion of the sandfish in desert sand using NMR-imaging"
, in PLoS One, Vol. 3, Nummer 10, Seite(n) e3309, 2008, ISSN: 1932-6203
Investigating the locomotion of the sandfish in desert sand using NMR-imaging
Sprache des Titels:
The sandfish (Scincus scincus) is a lizard having the remarkable ability to move through desert sand for significant distances. It is well adapted to living in loose sand by virtue of a combination of morphological and behavioural specializations. We investigated the bodyform of the sandfish using 3D-laserscanning and explored its locomotion in loose desert sand using fast nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging. The sandfish exhibits an in-plane meandering motion with a frequency of about 3 Hz and an amplitude of about half its body length accompanied by swimming-like (or trotting) movements of its limbs. No torsion of the body was observed, a movement required for a digging-behaviour. Simple calculations based on the Janssen model for granular material related to our findings on bodyform and locomotor behaviour render a local decompaction of the sand surrounding the moving sandfish very likely. Thus the sand locally behaves as a viscous fluid and not as a solid material. In this fluidised sand the sandfish is able to swim using its limbs.