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Physics of burrowing sandfish revealed

Simulations show how lizard wriggles a fine line to maximize thrust, extension

7:30pm, February 22, 2011

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The sandfish lizard wriggles through desert sands like a sci-fi monster. Now, using computer simulations and bendy robots, researchers at Georgia Tech in Atlanta have taken the most complete look yet at the everyday physics of burrowing animals. And, boy, does this reptile wriggle, the team reports online February 23 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. “This particular behavior is built for speed,” says physicist Daniel Goldman, one of the study coauthors.

Like the deadly sandworms in the Dune science fiction series, a host of animals from scorpions to snakes haunt subterranean deserts across t

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