Energy of the oscillating legs of a fast-moving cheetah, pronghorn, jackrabbit, and elephant

J Morphol. 1985 Apr;184(1):23-31. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051840103.


Lifelike models of the oscillating legs treated as three-segment systems show the course of kinetic and potential energy over the locomotor cycle for a cheetah, pronghorn, jackrabbit, and elephant running at speeds approaching their maxima. The models can be adjusted to eliminate differences among the animals in time intervals, mass or length of limb, and joint angles. This facilitates analysis of the influence on total energy of each of these variables and of the distribution of mass among leg segments. Fast-cycling legs of the carnivore type have significantly more energy than those of the hoofed type. This may contribute to the lesser endurance that is usual for carnivores that hunt using a high-speed dash.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acinonyx
  • Animals
  • Antelopes
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics*
  • Elephants
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Rabbits
  • Running*