Righting kinematics in beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera)

Arthropod Struct Dev. 2004 Jul;33(3):221-35. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2004.05.007.


Twenty modes of stereotyped righting motions were observed in 116 representative species of coleoptera. Methods included cine and stereocine recording with further frame by frame analysis, stereogrammetry, inverse kinematic reconstruction of joint angles, stroboscopic photography, recording of electromyograms, 3D measurements of the articulations, etc. The basic mode consists of a search phase, ending up with grasping the substrate, and a righting, overturning phase. Leg coordination within the search cycle differs from the walking cycle with respect to phasing of certain muscle groups. Search movements of all legs appear chaotic, but the tendency to move in antiphase is still present in adjacent ipsilateral and contralateral leg pairs. The system of leg coordination might be split: legs of one side might search, while contralateral legs walk, or fore and middle legs walk while hind legs search. Elaborated types of righting include somersaults with the aid of contralateral or diagonal legs, pitch on elytra, jumps with previous energy storage with the aid of unbending between thoracic segments (well-known for Elateridae), or quick folding of elytra (originally described in Histeridae). Righting in beetles is compared with righting modes known in locusts and cockroaches. Search in a righting beetle is directed dorsad, while a walking insect searches for the ground downwards. Main righting modes were schematized for possible application to robotics.