Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Does A Dog Walk? Surprisingly, Many Of Us Don't Really Know

Date:
January 29, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Despite the fact that most of us see our four-legged friends walking around every day, most of us -- including many experts in natural history museums and illustrators for veterinary anatomy text books -- apparently still don't know how they do it. A new study shows that anatomists, taxidermists, and toy designers get the walking gait of horses and other quadruped animals wrong about half the time.

How do dogs walk? It turns out that all four-legged animals step with their left hind leg followed by their left foreleg. Then they step with their right hind leg followed by the right foreleg, and so on. Animals differ from one another only in the timing of that stepping.
Credit: iStockphoto/Tim McCaig

Despite the fact that most of us see our four-legged friends walking around every day, most of us-including many experts in natural history museums and illustrators for veterinary anatomy text books-apparently still don't know how they do it.

A new study published in the January 27th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, shows that anatomists, taxidermists, and toy designers get the walking gait of horses and other quadruped animals wrong about half the time. That's despite the fact that their correct walking behavior was described and published more than 120 years ago.

"Our key finding is that the chance to find erroneous depictions of quadruped walking in our surrounding environment is about 50 percent, which corresponds to nothing else than pure accident," said Gábor Horváth of Eötvös University. "This was quite unexpected because the experts of animal locomotion have known well the characteristics of quadruped walking ever since the famous and pioneering work of Eadweard Muybridge, published in the 1880s."

So, then, how do they walk? It turns out that all four-legged animals step with their left hind leg followed by their left foreleg. Then they step with their right hind leg followed by the right foreleg, and so on. Animals differ from one another only in the timing of that stepping.

The reason that manner of walking is so universal, Horváth said, is that it provides the maximum static stability. In other words, when walking slowly, a horse's or dog's body is supported at all times by three feet on the ground, which form a triangle. The closer their center of mass is to the center of those three points, the more stable they will be.

Horváth and his colleagues suspect this is so often depicted incorrectly in part due to carelessness. Others probably don't know how the four-legged creatures among us walk, and some likely copy previous illustrations or models, which themselves are wrong.

In the case of children's toys, such an error might not be such a big deal, he added. However, model horses-often depicted mid-step-would fall over less if they were presented according to the correct footfall formula. In natural history museums and anatomy textbooks, though, scientific correctness should be a requirement.

Horváth did note one major exception that he says proves the rule: Hollywood movies such as Jurassic Park and The Lord of the Rings generally do get the walking of dinosaurs, elephants, and other fantastic, four-legged creatures just right. That's because they often rely behind the scenes on experts in biomechanics and animal locomotion.

The authors include Gábor Horváth, Eötvös University, Physical Institute, Budapest, Hungary; Adelinda Csapó, Eötvös University, Physical Institute, Budapest, Hungary; Annamária Nyeste, Eötvös University, Physical Institute, Budapest, Hungary; Balázs Gerics, Szent István University, Budapest, Hungary; Gábor Csorba, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary; and György Kriska, Eötvös University, Physical Institute, Budapest, Hungary.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "How Does A Dog Walk? Surprisingly, Many Of Us Don't Really Know." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121348.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, January 29). How Does A Dog Walk? Surprisingly, Many Of Us Don't Really Know. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121348.htm
Cell Press. "How Does A Dog Walk? Surprisingly, Many Of Us Don't Really Know." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090126121348.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins