Angela DiRocco

Lizards Aloft: Biomechanics of the Aerial Righting Reflex in the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Arboreal animals such as the Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, must be able to manipulate aerial descent to reduce injury when dislodged from elevated habitats. To maintain controlled aerial descent, the anole must obtain a prone posture. Anoles have been known to correct orientation after dislodgement by use of their tails through either the conservation of momentum to induce roll or by lateral swings which alter yaw.
While the mechanics behind yaw and roll alterations are understood, the extent to which an anole can correct pitch at high angles is not. My goal is to examine the aerial acrobatics performed by anoles when oriented vertically and how this affects methods of reorientation. The limitations of tail manipulations, the effects of velocity, and the angle of orientation will have a diverse effect on the ability to right. My findings will help provide information regarding the evolution of flight and aerial robotics.

Message to Sponsor

I am very passionate about animal flight as I have trained as a hang gliding pilot for a year. My experience has shown me how slight posture manipulations can affect aerial descent and this project allows me a direct opportunity to measure how such changes affect flight in a biologically relevant context. My involvement in SURF gives me an opportunity to not only gain research experience that I can use in the future, but it allows me to research a topic that I love.
  • Major: Biology, English (minor)
  • Sponsor: Thye Fund
  • Mentor: Robert Dudley, Integrative Biology