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Realistic Robots Provide Clues to Lizard Interaction

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A real lizard encounters a life-like robot in the natural habitat of the Galapagos Islands.

Alma College researchers used realistic-looking robots in research on the Galapagos lava lizard, a small ground lizard unique to the islands.

Credit: Alma College

Researchers at Alma College have developed an interactive robot that responds to the immediate actions of live lava lizards on the Galapagos Islands.

The robots, connected to a computer that controls their actions, previously were programmed to be unaffected by the response of a real lizard.

The researchers used the robots to study male lizard contests for access to reproductive females, which involve performing head-bobbing displays.

The researchers observed how the lizards reacted if the robot immediately responded. or had a delayed response to a head bob by a lizard.

Said Alma's Dave Clark, "Our research confirms that scientists can use robotic stimuli to interact with these animals, to communicate with them, and even manipulate their behavior, which in turn furthers our understanding of how lava lizards respond to each other in their natural habitat."

From Alma College
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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