Duyi (Tina) Kuang L&S Sciences
Front Limb Functional Morphology of Fox Squirrels During Landing
The ability to reliably leap and land on unfamiliar and unstable surfaces is instrumental to squirrels’ survival and navigation of arboreal environments. In previous studies, squirrels quickly learned to modify impulse generation upon repeated leaps from unfamiliar, compliant beams and rapidly adjusted foot placement to compensate for rotating rods. Understanding how squirrels adjust to unexpected landing conditions could not only help us better understand their morphological adaptations but could also provide innovative solutions in developing bio-inspired robots. Current jumping robots, such as UC Berkeley’s SALTO, are only capable of using their point foot to land on flat surfaces. Biological systems like squirrels can help inspire robots that can land on complex terrains. My study aims to quantify the key metrics in squirrel landing foot placement, in particular paw placement angles, contact area, front limb stance width, and toe span over different gap distances and landing rod diameters. By studying prominent toe and volar pads adaptive to the arboreal setting, I will add to the understanding of how toe-claw interaction enhances gripping capability.