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Endurance Locomotion in Animals

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Kevin Kirby, Oct 14, 2010.

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    I have split off Simon Spooner's excellent question on the locomotion endurance capabilities of different animal species into this new thread from the Your Thoughts on My Book on Barefoot Running thread.

    First of all, there are not many animals that actually "run" the way that the bipedal human animal can since most animals are quadripedal. Animals that travel far, fast, or easily on the ground are said to be cursorial. Animals that jump or hop are said to be saltatorial. Cursorial animals include some reptiles (some actually run in a bipedal fashion), some birds (the road runner can run 25 km/hr and the ostrich can run 80 km/hr bipedally), marsupials (a kangaroo has been seen to clear a 9 foot tall fence by hopping), primates (man is the best cursor of this bunch), rabbits/rodents (jackrabbits can run 64-72 km/hr), carnivores (a fox has been known to cover 240 km in 1.5 days during a fox hunt, but the cheetah seldom runs more than 0.5 km but has been clocked at 110 km/hr), ungulates (the camel has traveled 186 km in 12 hours and and the pronghorn has been paced by a car at 98 km/hr).

    From Hildebrand, Milton: Analysis of Vertebrate Structure, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1974, pp. 487-491.

    The course I took from Dr. Hildebrand at UC Davis during my junior year at UCD (1977-1978) on Comparative Vertebrate Morphology was one of the best courses that I have ever taken in my life. Fascinating stuff!

    Thanks Simon!:drinks
  2. Here's a good starter paper for all of you interested in this subject.

    Steudel: Limb morphology, bipedal gait, and the energetics of hominid locomotion.American journal of physical anthropology, 1996.

    Attached Files:

  3. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon excluded humans in his question but just for a point of comparison, here is what a human has done:

    24 hrs 188 miles 1038 yards
    48 hrs 294 miles 710 yards
    6 days 639 miles

    These records where all set by Yiannis Kouros. The distances just blow me away and can be considered sustained for the 24 and 48 hr distances. I know the 6 day record involved some short breaks for power naps.

    I expect there are some impressive distances covered by migrating animals in comparison.

  4. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Regarding sustained running in humans which I suspect would be similar for animals if you could convince them to run indefinitely. I found when I was ultra running that the limiting factor was not the actual time or distance run, it was sleep deprivation. I could fall into an easy, comfortable pace and plod along forever. Typically before a run, I would be so wired, it was impossible for me to sleep the night before. I would start the run and go through the first night without too much difficulty which was actually the second night of missed sleep. By the second night in the run and the 3rd night of missed sleep, it would really start getting difficult. An overwhelming desire would come over me to just lie down in my path and fall asleep. It becomes so strong that I have actually fallen asleep while running! It is an amazing feeling to be in good enough shape to be able to run indefinitely except for the need for sleep. I'm sure the urge to sleep becomes over powering because every system in your body needs some down time, including your muscles.

  5. I assume these times were on the flat? In 1975, Joss Naylor ran the 72 peaks involving over 100 miles and 37,000 feet of ascent in 23h20m. Not certain but think this record has since been broken....
  6. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member

    How about the wilderbeest they cover a few thousand miles looking for grassland each year in their migration
  7. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    As a pancake.
  8. Here's an interesting article on the evolution of endurance running in humans by Dan Lieberman and Dennis Bramble.

    Attached Files:

  9. blinda

    blinda MVP

    .....and they do it so majestically; "ooh I know.." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4dj1HFwQzo

  10. Tuckersm

    Tuckersm Well-Known Member


    They were all on the Sydney to Melbourne Marathon, which depending on the year, did once include a run along the definetly not flat Omeo Hwy.
  11. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member

    Stop it Bel! you know what happens when you get me carried away with our sneeze of humour, the comedy police jump on me and everything ends up all uncle Albert.

    LoL Dave

    PS sneeze was a typo for sense, but I kinda like it as it is:D
  12. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    I can't remember who told me about this book, but it was on the arena some time back now (it may have even been you Kevin): Principles of Animal Locomotion

    I'm a bit of a McNeill Alexander fan
  13. Yep, it was me. I read that book about six years ago while on a cruise to Alaska...I guess other people read novels on their vacation.....?:eek:
  14. Catfoot

    Catfoot Well-Known Member

    I understand that penguins can walk 80 miles across the snow/ice looking for more favourable habitats.

    It proves they have stamina if nothing else and it would probably take them all winter. Maybe not a great achievement but would we like to do it ??



    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010

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