S. N. Sponberg

Learn More
Geckos have evolved one of the most versatile and effective adhesives known. The mechanism of dry adhesion in the millions of setae on the toes of geckos has been the focus of scientific study for over a century. We provide the first direct experimental evidence for dry adhesion of gecko setae by van der Waals forces, and reject the use of mechanisms(More)
Living cetaceans exhibit interspecific size ranging across several orders of magnitude, and rank among the largest vertebrates ever. Details of how cetaceans evolved different body sizes, however, remain obscure, because they lack basic morphological proxies that have been traditionally used in other fossil vertebrates. Here, we reconstruct the body size of(More)
The interplay between robotics and neuromechanics facilitates discoveries in both fields: nature provides roboticists with design ideas, while robotics research elucidates critical features that confer performance advantages to biological systems. Here, we explore a system particularly well suited to exploit the synergies between biology and robotics:(More)
A neuromechanical approach to control requires understanding how mechanics alters the potential of neural feedback to control body dynamics. Here, we rewrite activation of individual motor units of a behaving animal to mimic the effects of neural feedback without concomitant changes in other muscles. We target a putative control muscle in the cockroach,(More)
Muscles driving rhythmic locomotion typically show strong dependence of power on the timing or phase of activation. This is particularly true in insects' main flight muscles, canonical examples of muscles thought to have a dedicated power function. However, in the moth (Manduca sexta), these muscles normally activate at a phase where the instantaneous slope(More)
Geckos owe their remarkable stickiness to millions of dry, hard setae on their toes. In this study, we discovered that gecko setae stick more strongly the faster they slide, and do not wear out after 30,000 cycles. This is surprising because friction between dry, hard, macroscopic materials typically decreases at the onset of sliding, and as velocity(More)
A temperature gradient throughout the dominant flight muscle (dorsolongitudinal muscle, DLM(1)) of the hawkmoth Manduca sexta, together with temperature-dependent muscle contractile rates, demonstrates that significant spatial variation in power production is possible within a single muscle. Using in situ work-loop analyses under varying muscle temperatures(More)
Animals are remarkably stable during high-speed maneuvers. As the speed of locomotion increases, neural bandwidth and processing delays can limit the ability to achieve and maintain stable control. Processing the information of sensory stimuli into a control signal within the sensor itself could enable rapid implementation of whole-body feedback control(More)
Muscles are multi-functional structures that interface neural and mechanical systems. Muscle work depends on a large multi-dimensional space of stimulus (neural) and strain (mechanical) parameters. In our companion paper, we rewrote activation to individual muscles in intact, behaving cockroaches (Blaberus discoidalis L.), revealing a specific muscle's(More)
Research into the neuromechanical basis of behavior, either in biomechanics, neuroethology, or neuroscience, is frequently limited by methods of data collection. Two of the most pressing needs are for methods with which to (1) record from multiple neurons or muscles simultaneously and (2) perform this recording in intact, behaving animals. In this paper we(More)
  • 1