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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Video: Why Humans Don't Gallop
18 January 2013 11:30 am
Dogs do it. Horses do it. So why don't humans? When animals need to get somewhere in a hurry, they gallop, but people rarely use this gait—similar to skipping, with the same foot remaining in front throughout the movement. To figure out why, researchers sent volunteers down a 30-meter runway at a run and at a gallop. Sensors placed along the track measured the force of their legs against the ground, while a motion-capture system—similar to what's used in digital animation—recorded their movements in three dimensions; researchers made an animated model (above) for each trial in order to calculate the forces involved. A separate experiment tested how much energy each gait required through 4-minute intervals on a treadmill. In an upcoming issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers report that galloping makes the hips move and absorb forces differently than a run does, and eats up more energy as a result. The front leg pushes the body up into the air while braking against forward motion, acting like the pole in the pole vault; the back leg does the opposite. A horse can shift energy between its front and back legs and their large tendons, making the gait much more efficient than a trot—the quadruped equivalent to a run. Hip strain itself might also prevent two-leggers from taking up galloping as a workout; treadmill gallopers reported that the gait was challenging and uncomfortable for hips and thighs, and several stopped galloping before the 4 minutes were up.
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