The antennal motor system of the stick insect Carausius morosus: anatomy and antennal movement pattern during walking
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The stick insect Carausius morosus continuously moves its antennae during locomotion. Active antennal movements may reflect employment of antennae as tactile probes. Therefore, this study treats two basic aspects of the antennal motor system: First, the anatomy of antennal joints, muscles, nerves and motoneurons is described and discussed in comparison with other species. Second, the typical movement pattern of the antennae is analysed, and its spatio-temporal coordination with leg movements described. Each antenna is moved by two single-axis hinge joints. The proximal head-scape joint is controlled by two levator muscles and a three-partite depressor muscle. The distal scape-pedicel joint is controlled by an antagonistic abductor/adductor pair. Three nerves innervate the antennal musculature, containing axons of 14–17 motoneurons, including one common inhibitor. During walking, the pattern of antennal movement is rhythmic and spatio-temporally coupled with leg movements. The antennal abduction/adduction cycle leads the protraction/retraction cycle of the ipsilateral front leg with a stable phase shift. During one abduction/adduction cycle there are typically two levation/depression cycles, however, with less strict temporal coupling than the horizontal component. Predictions of antennal contacts with square obstacles to occur before leg contacts match behavioural performance, indicating a potential role of active antennal movements in obstacle detection.
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