Scientists have found that a kangaroo’s tail is responsible for as much propulsive force as its front and hind legs combined, performing as much work as a human leg during walking at the same speed.
When moving slowly, kangaroos plant their tail on the ground in sequence with their front and hind legs.
To determine the tail’s role in this gait, the scientists measured the forces the tail exerts on the ground and calculated the mechanical power it generates.
“We found that the tail is responsible for as much propulsive force as the front and hind legs combined,” the researchers said.
“It also generates almost exclusively positive mechanical power, performing as much mass-specific work as does a human leg during walking at the same speed. Kangaroos use their muscular tail to propel and power their pentapedal gait just like a leg.”
Dr Shawn O’Connor of Canada’s Simon Fraser University and colleagues reported their finding to the Royal Society’s Biology Letters.
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