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Journal Article

Kinematics of Undulatory Swimming in the American Alligator

Frank E. Fish
Copeia
Vol. 1984, No. 4 (Dec. 18, 1984), pp. 839-843
DOI: 10.2307/1445326
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1445326
Page Count: 5

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Topics: Alligators, Swimming, Velocity, Animal tails, Testes, Kinematics, Propulsion, Amplitude, Locomotion, Water channels
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Kinematics of Undulatory Swimming in the American Alligator
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Abstract

Five juvenile alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) swam individually in a water channel at flow velocities from 13 to 95 cm/s by lateral undulations of the tail. Motion analysis of cine films revealed that the alligators swam by the generation of travelling waves initiating in the pelvic region. The wave pattern resembled undulatory modes utilized by fish. The posterior and lateral velocities of the travelling wave increased linearly with increased length-specific swimming velocity. The amplitude of the tail wave remained constant over the range of swimming velocities while frequency varied. The kinematics and propulsive morphology of the swimming juvenile alligators indicated a low performance mode of life. This is correlated with the prey-capture techniques of crocodilians.

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