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Lizard Push-Ups


[SFX: Ting, ting, ting] Oh lizards, can I have your attention, please? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. You've contemplated a lizard, haven't you, on a lazy summer day? Sometimes there are head movements—up down, up down. Then may come full-body, four-legged push-ups, which then go into head movements. But why? Harvard biologists Terry Ord and Judy Stamps were so curious, they created Robo-Lizard. It's a realistic-looking latex lizard model attached to programmable motors, which reproduce lizard push ups and head bobs. Ord and Stamps bolted the robots to trees in a Puerto Rican forest. As the robots performed, the scientists recorded the responses of real lizards nearby. They found that push-ups are meant to grab attention before head bobs. Like when people tap a fork against a glass, before making a toast. The pre-announcement push-ups were particularly effective when it was dark or noisy—Times when it's more difficult to get lizard attention. Once lizard attention was secured, there were announcements, old business, and then a raffle. No. But maybe. . . their meetings are just as tedious as ours. Still reviewing the tapes.


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