This has been an exciting week for my students and I in the BFF locomotion lab. We have finally worked out multiple bugs in our system and have a bunch of very peppy and cooperative bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) lizards. Corey Barnes, one of the BFF undergraduate seniors and PreVet Biology major, captured one of our trials on a young beardie we affectionately named Greenbeard. As you can see in the video below, we entice the lizards to walk and run by tempting them with their favorite treats – crickets! Although the lizards cannot get the treats immediately (we need the incentive), they each get a tasty cricket after each trial to reward them for a job well done.
Yes — these are juveniles … adult bearded dragons will be filmed as well.
The data we are collecting will form the basis of a comparative study of the relative movements of lizard forearms relative to the body across several species. Given that the earliest mammals and dinosaurs had a forelimb posture not unlike lizards (in some respects, lizards have “held on to” the ancestral forelimb posture and anatomy of early reptiles and mammals), they are acting as a model to test hypotheses about the transition from sprawling to upright forelimb postures.