Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 136, Issue 4, pp 301–312 | Cite as

Locomotion in a forward walking crab

  • Sally Sleinis
  • Gerald E. Silvey


  1. 1.

    Mictyris platycheles, the soldier crab, walks predominantly forward (Fig. 2). Two-thirds of the crabs studied used all 10 legs in walking; the remainder held up the chelae and walked with 8 legs.

  2. 2.

    The soldier crab is egg-shaped in contrast to laterally elongated sideways-walking crabs. Its joints which allow anterior-posterior leg movement describe larger angles than in sideways-walking crabs of a similar size, while its joints which permit lateral movement describe smaller angles (Fig. 1).

  3. 3.

    Mictyris walks mainly with two gaits: one overlapping (2534 or equivalents; >50% of the time) and the other metachronal (2345 or equivalents; >30% of the time) (Tables 1 and 2). It uses both at all but the highest stepping frequencies at which the overlapping gait predominates (Fig. 5).

  4. 4.

    Crabs stepped between 2 and 4 steps/s. With increasing rate the durations of both power and return strokes, which are nearly equal in each leg except leg 1, decreased (Fig. 7).

  5. 5.

    Ipsilateral legs 1 and 4 in 10-legged crabs and ipsilateral legs 2 and 5 in all crabs tended to step together (Fig. 8). Adjacent legs on the same side of the body stepped neither in phase nor in antiphase but with a mean phase relationship of 0.33. Contralateral legs of the same segment stepped nearly in opposite phase (Fig. 6 and Table 3).

  6. 6.

    The stepping pattern (Figs. 3, 4 and 9) is generated by alternation at one-sixth of a step cycle between sets of one or two legs on opposite sides of the body. At any given moment during walking crabs support themselves by various numbers of legs.

  7. 7.

    To walk forwardMictyris uses strategies of promotion and remotion similar to those employed by long-bodied decapod crustaceans. It also uses the same gaits and phase relationships on both sides of the body. In these respects the walk ofMictyris more nearly resembles those of other forward-walking animals rather than sideways-walking crabs.



Small Angle Opposite Phase Large Angle Lateral Movement Phase Relationship 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, C.G.: Locomotion in the isopod crustacean.Ligia oceanica (Linn.). Comp. Biochem. Physiol.42A, 1039–1047 (1972)Google Scholar
  2. Ayers, J., Clarac, F.: Neuromuscular strategies underlying different behavioral acts in a multifunctional crustacean leg joint. J. Comp. Physiol.128A, 81–94 (1978)Google Scholar
  3. Ayers, J.L., Davis, W.J.: Neuronal control of locomotion in the lobster,Homarus americanus. I. Motor programs for forward and backward walking. J. Comp. Physiol.115, 1–27 (1977)Google Scholar
  4. Barnes, W.J.P.: Leg co-ordination during walking in the crab,Uca pugnax. J. Comp. Physiol.96, 237–256 (1975)Google Scholar
  5. Bethe, A.: Das Nervensystem vonCarcinus maenas. Ein anatomisch-physiologischer Versuch. 1. Theil. I. Mittheilung. Arch. Mikroskop. Anat. Entwicklungsmech.50, 460–546 (1897)Google Scholar
  6. Bethe, A.: Studien über die Plastizität des Nervensystems. I. Mitteilung: Arachnoideen und Crustaceen. Pflügers Arch.224, 793–820 (1930)Google Scholar
  7. Bowerman, R.F.: The control of walking in the scorpion. I. Leg movements during normal walking. J. Comp. Physiol.100, 183–196 (1975)Google Scholar
  8. Bowerman, R.F.: The control of arthropod walking. Comp. Biochem. Physiol.56A, 231–247 (1977)Google Scholar
  9. Burns, M.D.: The control of walking in orthoptera. I. Leg movements in normal walking. J. Exp. Biol.58, 45–58 (1973)Google Scholar
  10. Burrows, M., Hoyle, G.: The mechanism of rapid running in the ghost crab,Ocypode ceratophthalma. J. Exp. Biol.58, 327–349 (1973)Google Scholar
  11. Clarac, F., Ayers, J.: La marche chez les crustacés: activité motrice programèe et regulation peripherique. J. Physiol. (Paris)73, 523–544 (1977)Google Scholar
  12. Clarac, F., Chasserat, C.: Experimental modification of interlimb coordination during locomotion of a crustacean. Neurosci. Lett.12, 271–276 (1979)Google Scholar
  13. Clarac, F., Coulmance, M.: La marche latérale du crabe (Carcinus). Coordination des mouvements articulaires et régulation proprioceptive. Z. Vergl. Physiol.73, 408–438 (1971)Google Scholar
  14. Dakin, W.J.: Australian Seashores. Sydney: Angus and Robertson 1952Google Scholar
  15. Delcomyn, F.: The locomotion of the cockroachPeriplaneta americana. J. Exp. Biol.54, 443–452 (1971)Google Scholar
  16. Evoy, W.H., Fourtner, C.R.: Crustacean walking. In: Control of posture and locomotion. Stein, R.B., Pearson, K.G., Smith, R.S., Redford, J.B. (eds.), pp. 477–493. New York: Plenum Press 1973Google Scholar
  17. Glaessner, M.F.: Decapoda. In: Treatise on invertebrate paleontology. Part R: Arthropoda 4, Vol. 2. Moore, R.G. (ed.), pp. R400-R566. Lawrence: University of Kansas and Geological Society of America 1969Google Scholar
  18. Graham, D.: A behavioural analysis of the temporal organisation of walking movements in the 1st instar and adult stick insect (Carausius morosus). J. Comp. Physiol.81, 23–52 (1972)Google Scholar
  19. Grecian, E.A.: Ecology and physiology ofMictyris platycheles. Honors thesis, University of Tasmania, Hobart (1973)Google Scholar
  20. Grillner, S.: Locomotion in vertebrates: central mechanisms and reflex interaction. Physiol. Rev.55, 247–304 (1975)Google Scholar
  21. Hoyle, G.: Arthropod walking. In: Neural control of locomotion. Herman, R.M., Grillner, S., Stein, P.S.G., Stuart, D.G. (eds.), pp. 137–179. New York: Plenum Press 1976Google Scholar
  22. Macmillan, D.L.: A physiological analysis of walking in the American lobster (Hormarus americanus). Phil. Trans. R. Soc. (Biol.)270, 1–59 (1975a)Google Scholar
  23. Macmillan, D.L., Silvey, G.E., Wilson, I.S.: Co-ordination of the movements of the appendages in the Tasmanian Mountain ShrimpAnaspides tasmaniae. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. (Biol.) (in press) (1980)Google Scholar
  24. Manton, S.M.: The evolution of arthropodan locomotory mechanisms — Part 2. General introduction to the locomotory mechanisms of the arthropoda. J. Linn. Soc. Zool.42, 93–117 (1952)Google Scholar
  25. Manton, S.M.: The Arthropoda, pp. 309–314. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1977Google Scholar
  26. Sleinis, S.: A study of locomotion ofMictyris platycheles. Honors thesis, University of Tasmania (1977)Google Scholar
  27. Spirito, C.P., Mushrush, D.L.: Interlimb coordination during slow walking in the cockroach. I. Effects of substrate alterations. J. Exp. Biol.78, 233–243 (1979)Google Scholar
  28. Wilson, D.M.: Insect walking. Annu. Rev. Entomol.11, 103–122 (1966)Google Scholar
  29. Wilson, D.M.: Stepping patterns in tarantula spiders. J. Exp. Biol.47, 133–151 (1967)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally Sleinis
    • 1
  • Gerald E. Silvey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and School of PharmacyUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations