Influence of body morphology on turning behavior in carnivores

J Mot Behav. 1994 Mar;26(1):3-12. doi: 10.1080/00222895.1994.9941655.


The present work illustrates how three carnivore species with different body morphologies differ in the performance of a basic motor component-turning. Marbled polecats, which have an elongated and slender trunk, turn while sharply bending the trunk laterally. Grey wolves possess elongated legs and turn by maneuvering with their legs while slightly bending the trunk laterally and lowering the head to contact the ground. Honey badgers feature a wide and massive bear-like shape and rarely bend the trunk, but rather turn either by maneuvering with their legs or while elevating parts of the trunk in the vertical domain. It is suggested that these strategies shorten the radius of turning and thus reduce the moment of inertia. A lower moment of inertia may optimize turning behavior in terms of speed, energy cost, and the smoothness of transition between turning and bouts of forward progression or arrest.