MUSCLE function and motor patterns
Muscles are the force-generating units of locomotion, responsible for an animal’s ability to perform tasks in a heterogeneous environment. Both redundancy and multitasking are inherent parts of muscle function, where different muscles have specific roles, yet often work together to accomplish tasks and allow for movement. In whole-animal performance, such as walking or sprinting, multiple muscles are activated at specific times. This multi-functionality of muscles and variation in activation pattern allow for a wide range of locomotor possibilities where a variety of muscles may work together to complete different modes of locomotion. Muscles are also context-dependent, where muscle function changes based on demands of the environment and allows animals to adjust their locomotion accordingly. Additionally, terrestrial and aquatic locomotion can place different muscular demands on an animal. On land, the limbs must both carry an animal over the ground and deal with gravity. In aquatic environments, animals must be able to push through the water and combat drag forces.
THE MAIN QUESTION:
How will the motor patterns differ between running, jumping, climbing, and swimming locomotion?