Earlier this week I mentioned the Robotic Salamander featured in Science. Basically, researchers have determined that swimming and walking in a salamander is controlled by the same pathway, the difference in the actions being the level of neural stimulation. Engineers have built Salamandra robitica to emulate this action with surprisingly good results.
I think the simplicity of the mechanism is brilliant and when Jenny Clack came to the University of Bristol today I asked her opinion on whether the creators of the robot can really claim to shed light on "the evolutionary transition from swimming to walking". Disapointingly she did not have an opinion on the piece however I passed the article on to Emily Rayfield who is a biomechanics expert in our department, I will let you know if she has any insights.
Ijspeert, A. J., Crespi, A., Ryczko, D., Cabelguen, J-M. 2007. From swimming to walking with a salamander robot driven by a spinal cord model. Science, 315:1416-1420.