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We used peanuts and a climbing wall to learn how squirrels judge their leaps so successfully – and how their skills could inspire more nimble robots

By Lucia F. Jacobs, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Nathaniel Hunt, Assistant Professor of Biomechanics, University of Nebraska Omaha
Robert J. Full, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
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Tree squirrels are the Olympic divers of the rodent world, leaping gracefully among branches and structures high above the ground. And as with human divers, a squirrel’s success in this competition requires both physical strength and mental adaptability.

The Jacobs lab studies cognition in free-ranging fox squirrels on the Berkeley campus. Two species – the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) – thrive…

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