AUG 03, 2017 07:49 AM PDT

Lizards Use Body Oscillations to Dig Into Desert Sand

Desert lizards may be able to teach us a thing or two about digging into loose sandy environments, such as at the beach or in the desert.

A pair of horned lizards sit on a sandy surface.

Image Credit: TCB/Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Santiago observed how a whole host of different lizards, including the fringe-toed lizard and horned lizard, have adapted to utilize body oscillations for penetrating the ground surface.

Doing so is advantageous for a plethora of desert lizards for two reasons: 1) they can avoid the extreme heat by burrowing just a few centimeters below the surface, and 2) they can blend in with the color of the sand to avoid predators.

Related: Some geckos are developing bigger heads in response to human actions

To learn more about how this digging method works and how we could harness similar concepts in future digging technologies, the researchers studied it in closer detail and published their results in the journal PLOS ONE.

What they found was that the lizards’ bodies produced vibrations robust enough to overcome gravitational acceleration, which meant they could burrow beneath the sandy surface even while grains of sand were pulled back down by gravity.

The video below is unrelated to the study, but it does an excellent job of showing the mechanics involved in how these types of lizards can burrow into the ground:

The researchers tried to simulate these oscillations with the same kinds of vibrating motors you would typically find in smartphones or game console controllers, and they concluded that these motors were just as effective at penetrating granular media as desert lizards were.

The oscillations reduced digging resistance in various forms of granular media by as much as ten times, which means the lizards are saving a lot of energy through their method rather than using their little arms to dig holes.

Related: Lizard regenerates six tails all at once

Perhaps future digging technologies could utilize this concept to increase energy efficiency and output. Given that vibration motors have been around for ages, it’s just a matter of adapting them to work with larger tools.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 16, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 16, 2019
A Safer Cannabis Extract Could Help Users Fight Cannabis Dependence
According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 30% of recreational cannabis users in the U.S. may be at risk of having some degree of cannabis...
SEP 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2019
Dozens of Beached Pilot Whales in Iceland Prompt Major Rescue Effort
Animal conservationists still haven’t pinned the cause on mass whale beachings; nevertheless, they transpire all around the globe at an alarming rate...
SEP 16, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 16, 2019
Do Japanese Trees Synchronize Pollen Release?
If you experience itchy eyes, a runny nose, and more sneezing or coughing than normal, you’re probably familiar with allergic rhinitis. When allergic...
SEP 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 16, 2019
Crows Are Incredibly Smart Birds
Many people don’t realize it, but animals can be particularly intelligent when it comes to matters of problem-solving. In this video, we see a lone c...
SEP 16, 2019
Earth & The Environment
SEP 16, 2019
"The Blob" is Back
Five years ago, a phenomenon dubbed “the blob” caused turmoil along the West Coast of the Pacific Ocean. No, it wasn’t an invader from sp...
SEP 16, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
SEP 16, 2019
Cannabis Buds for Mid-Level Pain Relief
A study called, "The Effectiveness of Self-Directed Medical Cannabis Treatment for Pain," published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Med...
Loading Comments...