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How alligators rock and roll
Date:3/13/2008

es, with one on each side of an alligators pelvis. Each ischiopubis muscle connects a pubis bone to an ischium bone. Unlike humans, who have their pelvic bones fused together, the pubes and ischia are not fused in gators, so the ischiopubis muscles allow gators to puff out their bellies, helping pull the liver toward the tail so the lungs inflate when the animal inhales.

  • The rectus abdominis muscles, which Uriona describes as the gator equivalent of six packs, abs or abdominal muscles. In most animals, these muscles help maintain posture. In crocodilians, these muscles encase the belly ribs, helping push the guts upward to force air from the lungs when the animals exhale.

  • The internal intercostals, which are muscles between an alligators ribs the kind of muscles people eat when they order pork or beef ribs. There are two groups of chest rib muscles. One group helps the rib cage contract and pushes air out of the lungs when gators exhale; the other helps the rib cage expand during inhalation.

Of the muscles listed above, some are used for inhaling and some for exhaling. Yet the study found all four muscle types work together to help an alligator shift its lungs so it can rock downward to dive or roll side-to-side. The tail also helps gators roll.

The muscles are on when they are diving, and the muscles shut off when they start returning to the surface, Uriona says.

The Alligators Burden

As part of the study, Uriona created small weights equal to only 2.5 percent of each gators body weight by wrapping buckshot pellets in duct tape.

When a weight was duct-taped to an alligators snout, it helped the alligator dive. As a result, the electrical recordings showed that there was reduced activity of muscles needed to help diving muscles that pull the lungs backward to help lift the tail.

When a weight was duct-taped at the base of a gat
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Contact: Lee Siegel
leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert  

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