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Gut first

Crawling caterpillars move their insides forward before their outsides, X-rays reveal

11:51am, July 22, 2010

Going with your gut is automatic for caterpillars. When crawling, a caterpillar’s gut advances an entire step forward before the outside of its body catches up, new research reveals.

The peculiar discovery should help scientists design better soft-bodied robots that can search tight places such as mine shafts, the nooks behind walls or the rubble of a fallen building.

“Exposing the secrets of animal locomotion provides the biological inspiration for engineers,” says Robert Full of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved with the research. “This is the beginning of being able to create incredible and effective robots that will serve us well.”

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