Swimming in the Sahara

Swimming in the Sahara

Swimming in the Sahara

The sandfish, a type of desert lizard, can vanish into a sandy substrate in a blink of an eye. Approaches that draw on mathematics, physics, and engineering provide complementary insights into how the animal achieves this feat.  In a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, graduate student Ryan Maladen, Assistant Professor Dan Goldman, and their colleagues describe how they have used a refinement of their resistive force theory to show that a sand-swimming lizard moves forward about as fast as it can. Their model will allow biologists and engineers to explore loco¬motion in granular solids with unprecedented ease and speed. (Nature, 472:177, April 14, 2011)

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