Shapefuture provides a better environment for O Level, IGCSE, AS and A Level Training.

Squirrels use parkour tricks when leaping from branch to branch

Parkour enthusiasts need look no further than up in the trees for inspiration. Squirrels’ aerial acrobatics make the rodents masters of the form, a new study suggests.

A detailed look at how squirrels navigate narrow branches that bend and sway with the wind — where the smallest error could spell death — shows that the rodents make split-second calculations to balance trade-offs between branch bendiness and the distance between tree limbs. And for particularly tricky jumps, squirrels improvise parkour-style moves in midair to stick the landing, researchers report in the Aug. 6 Science.

This study is “a great example of how cool ‘normal’ animals can be in their biomechanics,” says Michelle Graham, a graduate student in biomechanics at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg who was not involved with the research. “We’ve all seen squirrels do crazy stuff in nature, but no one ever pays any attention to it.”

That is unless you’re like Nathaniel Hunt, who has been mesmerized by watching squirrels flash through the overstory since graduate school. “Tree canopies are incredibly challenging environments to navigate,” says Hunt, an integrative biologist at the University of Nebraska Omaha. When jumping between bendy branches, a squirrel must assess how far it has to jump and know when to leap. Jump too early and the squirrel will fall short. Too late, and the squirrel will find itself on a branch too flimsy from which to launch. Hunt wondered, “How are they sensitive to that trade-off, managing to make accurate leaps?”

News Source