Object manipulation without hands
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Our current understanding of manipulation is based on primate hands, resulting in a detailed but narrow perspective of ways to handle objects. Although most other animals lack hands, they are still capable of flexible manipulation of diverse objects, including food and nest materials, and depend on dexterity in object handling to survive and reproduce. Birds, for instance, use their bills and feet to forage and build nests, while insects carry food and construct nests with their mandibles and legs. Bird bills and insect mandibles are much simpler than a primate hand, resembling simple robotic grippers. A better understanding of manipulation in these and other species would provide a broader comparative perspective on the origins of dexterity. Here we contrast data from primates, birds and insects, describing how they sense and grasp objects, and the neural architectures that control manipulation. Finally, we outline techniques for collecting comparable manipulation data from animals with diverse morphologies and describe the practical applications of studying manipulation in a wide range of species, including providing inspiration for novel designs of robotic manipulators.
Sugasawa , S , Webb , B & Healy , S D 2021 , ' Object manipulation without hands ' , Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences , vol. 288 , no. 1947 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.3184
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2021 the Author(s). This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.3184.
DescriptionFunding: This work was supported by BBSRC Discovery Fellowship (BB/S01019X/1) to S.S.
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