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, 204 (Pt 4), 797-803

Energetics of Terrestrial Locomotion of the Platypus Ornithorhynchus Anatinus

  • PMID: 11171362

Energetics of Terrestrial Locomotion of the Platypus Ornithorhynchus Anatinus

F E Fish et al. J Exp Biol.


The platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus Shaw displays specializations in its limb structure for swimming that could negatively affect its terrestrial locomotion. Platypuses walked on a treadmill at speeds of 0.19-1.08 m x s(-1). Video recordings were used for gait analysis, and the metabolic rate of terrestrial locomotion was studied by measuring oxygen consumption. Platypuses used walking gaits (duty factor >0.50) with a sprawled stance. To limit any potential interference from the extensive webbing on the forefeet, platypuses walk on their knuckles. Metabolic rate increased linearly over a 2.4-fold range with increasing walking speed in a manner similar to that of terrestrial mammals, but was low as a result of the relatively low standard metabolic rate of this monotreme. The dimensionless cost of transport decreased with increasing speed to a minimum of 0.79. Compared with the cost of transport for swimming, the metabolic cost for terrestrial locomotion was 2.1 times greater. This difference suggests that the platypus may pay a price in terrestrial locomotion by being more aquatically adapted than other semi-aquatic or terrestrial mammals.

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