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Journal Articles Journal of the Royal Society Interface Year : 2024

Dynamics of centipede locomotion revealed by large-scale traction force microscopy

J. Rieu
H. Delanoë-Ayari
C. Barentin
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S. Kuroda
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Abstract

We present a novel approach to traction force microscopy (TFM) for studying the locomotion of 10 cm long walking centipedes on soft substrates. Leveraging the remarkable elasticity and ductility of kudzu starch gels, we use them as a deformable gel substrate, providing resilience against the centipedes’ sharp leg tips. By optimizing fiducial marker size and density and fine-tuning imaging conditions, we enhance measurement accuracy. Our TFM investigation reveals traction forces along the centipede’s longitudinal axis that effectively counterbalance inertial forces within the 0–10 mN range, providing the first report of non-vanishing inertia forces in TFM studies. Interestingly, we observe waves of forces propagating from the head to the tail of the centipede, corresponding to its locomotion speed. Furthermore, we discover a characteristic cycle of leg clusters engaging with the substrate: forward force (friction) upon leg tip contact, backward force (traction) as the leg pulls the substrate while stationary, and subsequent forward force as the leg tip detaches to reposition itself in the anterior direction. This work opens perspectives for TFM applications in ethology, tribology and robotics.
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Dates and versions

hal-04604308 , version 1 (07-06-2024)

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J. Rieu, H. Delanoë-Ayari, C. Barentin, T. Nakagaki, S. Kuroda. Dynamics of centipede locomotion revealed by large-scale traction force microscopy. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2024, 21 (214), ⟨10.1098/rsif.2023.0439⟩. ⟨hal-04604308⟩
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