Toads anticipate the timing and impact of their landings in the same way that humans do, according to a new paper called “Do toads have a jump on how far they hop…” The paper was co-authored by Gary B. Gillis, associate professor of biology at Mount Holyoke College, and two undergraduates who helped make the discovery. “Until now, such prescient limb muscle activity has only been demonstrated in mammals, but Gillis and his team showed that hopping toads can alter both the intensity and timing of activity in muscles used to stabilize their forelimbs on impact. In long hops, when impact forces are known to be higher, elbow muscles exhibited more intense activity just prior to landing than during short hops. In addition, one major elbow muscle was always activated at a fixed interval prior to landing in all hops, regardless of distance, suggesting that toads not only gauge how hard they’re going to hit the ground, but also anticipate precisely when that will happen. ‘We believe this data represents the first demonstration of tuned pre-landing muscle use in anurans (frogs and toads),’ said Gillis. ‘It raises questions about how widespread this ability is among other species and how important feedback from various sensory systems–e.g., vision–is for mediating this ability.’”
Who — or what — really controls your mind?