News Round-Up

Leaping squirrels!

Source: berkeley.edu

Videos of squirrels leaping from bendy branches across impossibly large gaps, parkouring off walls, scrambling to recover from tricky landings.

Just more YouTube content documenting the crazy antics of squirrels hell-bent on reaching peanuts?

No, these videos are part of a research study to understand the split-second decisions squirrels make routinely as they race through the tree canopy, jumping from branch to branch, using skills honed to elude deadly predators.

The payoff to understanding how squirrels learn the limits of their agility could be robots with better control to nimbly move through varied landscapes, such as the rubble of a collapsed building in search of survivors or to quickly access an environmental threat. MORE

Header image: A fox squirrel on the experimental apparatus. Credit: UC Berkeley photo, Judy Jinn.