Animal locomotion, in ethology, is any of a variety of methods that animals use to move from one place to another. Some modes of locomotion are (initially) self-propelled, e.g., running, swimming, jumping, flying, hopping, soaring and gliding. There are also many animal species that depend on their environment for transportation, a type of mobility called passive locomotion, e.g., sailing (some jellyfish), kiting (spiders), rolling (some beetles and spiders) or riding other animals (phoresis).
Animals move for a variety of reasons, such as to find food, a mate, a suitable microhabitat, or to escape predators. For many animals, the ability to move is essential for survival and, as a result, natural selection has shaped the locomotion methods and mechanisms used by moving organisms. For example, migratory animals that travel vast distances (such as the Arctic tern) typically have a locomotion mechanism that costs very little energy per unit distance, whereas non-migratory animals that must frequently move quickly to escape predators are likely to have energetically costly, but very fast, locomotion.
The term "locomotion" is formed in English from Latin loco "from a place" (ablative of locus "place") + motio "motion, a moving".
Animals move through, or on, four types of environment: aquatic (in or on water), terrestrial (on ground or other surface, including arboreal, or tree-dwelling), fossorial (underground), and aerial (in the air). Many animals—for example semi-aquatic animals, and diving birds—regularly move through more than one type of medium. In some cases, the surface they move on facilitates their method of locomotion.
In water, staying afloat is possible using buoyancy. If an animal's body is less dense than water, it can stay afloat. This requires little energy to maintain a vertical position, but requires more energy for locomotion in the horizontal plane compared to less buoyant animals. The drag encountered in water is much greater than in air. Morphology is therefore important for efficient locomotion, which is in most cases essential for basic functions such as catching prey. A fusiform, torpedo-like body form is seen in many aquatic animals, though the mechanisms they use for locomotion are diverse.
The primary means by which fish generate thrust is by oscillating the body from side-to-side, the resulting wave motion ending at a large tail fin. Finer control, such as for slow movements, is often achieved with thrust from pectoral fins (or front limbs in marine mammals). Some fish, e.g. the spotted ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei) and batiform fish (electric rays, sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates and stingrays) use their pectoral fins as the primary means of locomotion, sometimes termed labriform swimming. Marine mammals oscillate their body in an up-and-down (dorso-ventral) direction. Other animals, e.g. penguins, diving ducks, move underwater in a manner which has been termed "aquatic flying". Some fish propel themselves without a wave motion of the body, as in the slow-moving seahorses and Gymnotus.
Other animals, such as cephalopods, use jet propulsion to travel fast, taking in water then squirting it back out in an explosive burst. Other swimming animals may rely predominantly on their limbs, much as humans do when swimming. Though life on land originated from the seas, terrestrial animals have returned to an aquatic lifestyle on several occasions, such as the fully aquatic cetaceans, now very distinct from their terrestrial ancestors.
Benthic locomotion is movement by animals that live on, in, or near the bottom of aquatic environments. In the sea, many animals walk over the seabed. Echinoderms primarily use their tube feet to move about. The tube feet typically have a tip shaped like a suction pad that can create a vacuum through contraction of muscles. This, along with some stickiness from the secretion of mucus, provides adhesion. Waves of tube feet contractions and relaxations move along the adherent surface and the animal moves slowly along. Some sea urchins also use their spines for benthic locomotion.
Crabs typically walk sideways (a behaviour that gives us the word crabwise). This is because of the articulation of the legs, which makes a sidelong gait more efficient. However, some crabs walk forwards or backwards, including raninids, Libinia emarginata and Mictyris platycheles. Some crabs, notably the Portunidae and Matutidae, are also capable of swimming, the Portunidae especially so as their last pair of walking legs are flattened into swimming paddles.
A stomatopod, Nannosquilla decemspinosa, can escape by rolling itself into a self-propelled wheel and somersault backwards at a speed of 72 rpm. They can travel more than 2 m using this unusual method of locomotion.
Velella, the by-the-wind sailor, is a cnidarian with no means of propulsion other than sailing. A small rigid sail projects into the air and catches the wind. Velella sails always align along the direction of the wind where the sail may act as an aerofoil, so that the animals tend to sail downwind at a small angle to the wind.
While larger animals such as ducks can move on water by floating, some small animals move across it without breaking through the surface. This surface locomotion takes advantage of the surface tension of water. Animals that move in such a way include the water strider. Water striders have legs that are hydrophobic, preventing them from interfering with the structure of water. Another form of locomotion (in which the surface layer is broken) is used by the basilisk lizard.
Gravity is the primary obstacle to flight. Because it is impossible for any organism to have a density as low as that of air, flying animals must generate enough lift to ascend and remain airborne. One way to achieve this is with wings, which when moved through the air generate an upward lift force on the animal's body. Flying animals must be very light to achieve flight, the largest living flying animals being birds of around 20 kilograms. Other structural adaptations of flying animals include reduced and redistributed body weight, fusiform shape and powerful flight muscles; there may also be physiological adaptations. Active flight has independently evolved at least four times, in the insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. Insects were the first taxon to evolve flight, approximately 400 million years ago (mya), followed by pterosaurs approximately 220 mya, birds approximately 160 mya, then bats about 60 mya.
Rather than active flight, some (semi-) arboreal animals reduce their rate of falling by gliding. Gliding is heavier-than-air flight without the use of thrust; the term "volplaning" also refers to this mode of flight in animals. This mode of flight involves flying a greater distance horizontally than vertically and therefore can be distinguished from a simple descent like a parachute. Gliding has evolved on more occasions than active flight. There are examples of gliding animals in several major taxonomic classes such as the invertebrates (e.g., gliding ants), reptiles (e.g., banded flying snake), amphibians (e.g., flying frog), mammals (e.g., sugar glider, squirrel glider).
Some aquatic animals also regularly use gliding, for example, flying fish, octopus and squid. The flights of flying fish are typically around 50 meters (160 ft), though they can use updrafts at the leading edge of waves to cover distances of up to 400 m (1,300 ft). To glide upward out of the water, a flying fish moves its tail up to 70 times per second. Several oceanic squid, such as the Pacific flying squid, leap out of the water to escape predators, an adaptation similar to that of flying fish. Smaller squids fly in shoals, and have been observed to cover distances as long as 50 m. Small fins towards the back of the mantle help stabilize the motion of flight. They exit the water by expelling water out of their funnel, indeed some squid have been observed to continue jetting water while airborne providing thrust even after leaving the water. This may make flying squid the only animals with jet-propelled aerial locomotion. The neon flying squid has been observed to glide for distances over 30 m, at speeds of up to 11.2 m/s.
Soaring birds can maintain flight without wing flapping, using rising air currents. Many gliding birds are able to "lock" their extended wings by means of a specialized tendon. Soaring birds may alternate glides with periods of soaring in rising air. Five principal types of lift are used: thermals, ridge lift, lee waves, convergences and dynamic soaring.
Examples of soaring flight by birds are the use of:
Ballooning is a method of locomotion used by spiders. Certain silk-producing arthropods, mostly small or young spiders, secrete a special light-weight gossamer silk for ballooning, sometimes traveling great distances at high altitude.
Forms of locomotion on land include walking, running, hopping or jumping, dragging and crawling or slithering. Here friction and buoyancy are no longer an issue, but a strong skeletal and muscular framework are required in most terrestrial animals for structural support. Each step also requires much energy to overcome inertia, and animals can store elastic potential energy in their tendons to help overcome this. Balance is also required for movement on land. Human infants learn to crawl first before they are able to stand on two feet, which requires good coordination as well as physical development. Humans are bipedal animals, standing on two feet and keeping one on the ground at all times while walking. When running, only one foot is on the ground at any one time at most, and both leave the ground briefly. At higher speeds momentum helps keep the body upright, so more energy can be used in movement.
Jumping (saltation) can be distinguished from running, galloping, and other gaits where the entire body is temporarily airborne by the relatively long duration of the aerial phase and high angle of initial launch. Many terrestrial animals use jumping (including hopping or leaping) to escape predators or catch prey—however, relatively few animals use this as a primary mode of locomotion. Those that do include the kangaroo and other macropods, rabbit, hare, jerboa, hopping mouse, and kangaroo rat. Kangaroo rats often leap 2 m and reportedly up to 2.75 m at speeds up to almost 3 m/s (6.7 mph). They can quickly change their direction between jumps. The rapid locomotion of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat may minimize energy cost and predation risk. Its use of a "move-freeze" mode may also make it less conspicuous to nocturnal predators. Frogs are, relative to their size, the best jumpers of all vertebrates. The Australian rocket frog, Litoria nasuta, can leap over 2 metres (6 ft 7 in), more than fifty times its body length.
Leeches and geometer moth caterpillars move by looping or inching (measuring off a length with each movement), using their paired circular and longitudinal muscles (as for peristalsis) along with the ability to attach to a surface at both anterior and posterior ends. One end is attached and the other end is projected forward peristaltically until it touches down, as far as it can reach; then the first end is released, pulled forward, and reattached; and the cycle repeats. In the case of leeches, attachment is by a sucker at each end of the body.
Due to its low coefficient of friction, ice provides the opportunity for other modes of locomotion. Penguins either waddle on their feet or slide on their bellies across the snow, a movement called tobogganing, which conserves energy while moving quickly. Some pinnipeds perform a similar behaviour called sledding.
Some animals are specialized for moving on non-horizontal surfaces. One common habitat for such climbing animals is in trees, for example the gibbon is specialized for arboreal movement, traveling rapidly by brachiation. Another case is animals like the snow leopard living on steep rock faces such as are found in mountains. Some light animals are able to climb up smooth sheer surfaces or hang upside down by adhesion using suckers. Many insects can do this, though much larger animals such as geckos can also perform similar feats.
Species have different numbers of legs resulting in large differences in locomotion.
Modern birds, though classified as tetrapods, usually have only two functional legs, which some (e.g., ostrich, emu, kiwi) use as their primary, Bipedal, mode of locomotion. A few modern mammalian species are habitual bipeds, i.e., whose normal method of locomotion is two-legged. These include the macropods, kangaroo rats and mice, springhare, hopping mice, pangolins and homininan apes. Bipedalism is rarely found outside terrestrial animals—though at least two types of octopus walk bipedally on the sea floor using two of their arms, so they can use the remaining arms to camouflage themselves as a mat of algae or floating coconut.
There are no three-legged animals—though some macropods, such as kangaroos, that alternate between resting their weight on their muscular tails and their two hind legs, could be looked at as an example of tripedal locomotion in animals.
Many familiar animals are quadrupedal, walking or running on four legs. A few birds use quadrupedal movement in some circumstances. For example, the shoebill sometimes uses its wings to right itself after lunging at prey. The newly hatched hoatzin bird has claws on its thumb and first finger enabling it to dexterously climb tree branches until its wings are strong enough for sustained flight. These claws are gone by the time the bird reaches adulthood.
A relatively few animals use five limbs for locomotion. Prehensile quadrupeds may use their tail to assist in locomotion and when grazing, the kangaroos and other macropods use their tail to propel themselves forward with the four legs used to maintain balance.
Arachnids have eight legs. Most arachnids lack extensor muscles in the distal joints of their appendages. Spiders and whipscorpions extend their limbs hydraulically using the pressure of their hemolymph. Solifuges and some harvestmen extend their knees by the use of highly elastic thickenings in the joint cuticle. Scorpions, pseudoscorpions and some harvestmen have evolved muscles that extend two leg joints (the femur-patella and patella-tibia joints) at once.
The scorpion Hadrurus arizonensis walks by using two groups of legs (left 1, right 2, Left 3, Right 4 and Right 1, Left 2, Right 3, Left 4) in a reciprocating fashion. This alternating tetrapod coordination is used over all walking speeds.
Centipedes and millipedes have many sets of legs that move in metachronal rhythm. Some echinoderms locomote using the many tube feet on the underside of their arms. Although the tube feet resemble suction cups in appearance, the gripping action is a function of adhesive chemicals rather than suction. Other chemicals and relaxation of the ampullae allow for release from the substrate. The tube feet latch on to surfaces and move in a wave, with one arm section attaching to the surface as another releases. Some multi-armed, fast-moving starfish such as the sunflower seastar (Pycnopodia helianthoides) pull themselves along with some of their arms while letting others trail behind. Other starfish turn up the tips of their arms while moving, which exposes the sensory tube feet and eyespot to external stimuli. Most starfish cannot move quickly, a typical speed being that of the leather star (Dermasterias imbricata), which can manage just 15 cm (6 in) in a minute. Some burrowing species from the genera Astropecten and Luidia have points rather than suckers on their long tube feet and are capable of much more rapid motion, "gliding" across the ocean floor. The sand star (Luidia foliolata) can travel at a speed of 2.8 m (9 ft 2 in) per minute. Sunflower starfish are quick, efficient hunters, moving at a speed of 1 m/min (3.3 ft/min) using 15,000 tube feet.
Many animals temporarily change the number of legs they use for locomotion in different circumstances. For example, many quadrupedal animals switch to bipedalism to reach low-level browse on trees. The genus of Basiliscus are arboreal lizards that usually use quadrupedalism in the trees. When frightened, they can drop to water below and run across the surface on their hind limbs at about 1.5 m/s for a distance of approximately 4.5 metres (15 ft) before they sink to all fours and swim. They can also sustain themselves on all fours while "water-walking" to increase the distance travelled above the surface by about 1.3 metres. When cockroaches run rapidly, they rear up on their two hind legs like bipedal humans; this allows them to run at speeds up to 50 body lengths/s, equivalent to a "couple hundred miles per hour, if you scale up to the size of humans". When grazing, kangaroos use a form of pentapedalism (four legs plus the tail) but switch to hopping (bipedalism) when they wish to move at a greater speed.
The Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi) uses a series of rapid, acrobatic flic-flac movements of its legs similar to those used by gymnasts, to actively propel itself off the ground, allowing it to move both down and uphill, even at a 40 percent incline. This behaviour is different than other huntsman spiders, such as Carparachne aureoflava from the Namib Desert, which uses passive cartwheeling as a form of locomotion. The flic-flac spider can reach speeds of up to 2 m/s using forward or back flips to evade threats.
Some animals move through solids such as soil by burrowing using peristalsis, as in earthworms, or other methods. In loose solids such as sand some animals, such as the golden mole, marsupial mole, and the pink fairy armadillo, are able to move more rapidly, 'swimming' through the loose substrate. Burrowing animals include moles, ground squirrels, naked mole-rats, tilefish, and mole crickets.
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. Some animals may only scale trees occasionally, while others are exclusively arboreal. These habitats pose numerous mechanical challenges to animals moving through them, leading to a variety of anatomical, behavioural and ecological consequences as well as variations throughout different species. Furthermore, many of these same principles may be applied to climbing without trees, such as on rock piles or mountains. The earliest known tetrapod with specializations that adapted it for climbing trees, was Suminia, a synapsid of the late Permian, about 260 million years ago. Some invertebrate animals are exclusively arboreal in habitat, for example, the tree snail.
Brachiation (from brachium, Latin for "arm"), is a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms. During brachiation, the body is alternately supported under each forelimb. This is the primary means of locomotion for the small gibbons and siamangs of southeast Asia. Some New World monkeys such as spider monkeys and muriquis are "semibrachiators" and move through the trees with a combination of leaping and brachiation. Some New World species also practice suspensory behaviors by using their prehensile tail, which acts as a fifth grasping hand.
Animal locomotion requires energy to overcome various forces including friction, drag, inertia and gravity, although the influence of these depends on the circumstances. In terrestrial environments, gravity must be overcome whereas the drag of air has little influence. In aqueous environments, friction (or drag) becomes the major energetic challenge with gravity being less of an influence. Remaining in the aqueous environment, animals with natural buoyancy expend little energy to maintain a vertical position in a water column. Others naturally sink, and must spend energy to remain afloat. Drag is also an energetic influence in flight, and the aerodynamically efficient body shapes of flying birds indicate how they have evolved to cope with this. Limbless organisms moving on land must energetically overcome surface friction, however, they do not usually need to expend significant energy to counteract gravity.
Newton's third law of motion is widely used in the study of animal locomotion: if at rest, to move forwards an animal must push something backwards. Terrestrial animals must push the solid ground, swimming and flying animals must push against a fluid (either water or air). The effect of forces during locomotion on the design of the skeletal system is also important, as is the interaction between locomotion and muscle physiology, in determining how the structures and effectors of locomotion enable or limit animal movement. The energetics of locomotion involves the energy expenditure by animals in moving. Energy consumed in locomotion is not available for other efforts, so animals typically have evolved to use the minimum energy possible during movement. However, in the case of certain behaviors, such as locomotion to escape a predator, performance (such as speed or maneuverability) is more crucial, and such movements may be energetically expensive. Furthermore, animals may use energetically expensive methods of locomotion when environmental conditions (such as being within a burrow) preclude other modes.
The most common metric of energy use during locomotion is the net [also termed "incremental"] cost of transport, defined as the amount of energy (e.g., Joules) needed above baseline metabolic rate to move a given distance. For aerobic locomotion, most animals have a nearly constant cost of transport - moving a given distance requires the same caloric expenditure, regardless of speed. This constancy is usually accomplished by changes in gait. The net cost of transport of swimming is lowest, followed by flight, with terrestrial limbed locomotion being the most expensive per unit distance. However, because of the speeds involved, flight requires the most energy per unit time. This does not mean that an animal that normally moves by running would be a more efficient swimmer; however, these comparisons assume an animal is specialized for that form of motion. Another consideration here is body mass—heavier animals, though using more total energy, require less energy per unit mass to move. Physiologists generally measure energy use by the amount of oxygen consumed, or the amount of carbon dioxide produced, in an animal's respiration. In terrestrial animals, the cost of transport is typically measured while they walk or run on a motorized treadmill, either wearing a mask to capture gas exchange or with the entire treadmill enclosed in a metabolic chamber. For small rodents, such as deer mice, the cost of transport has also been measured during voluntary wheel running.
Energetics is important for explaining the evolution of foraging economic decisions in organisms; for example, a study of the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata, has shown that honey bees may trade-off the high sucrose content of viscous nectar for the energetic benefits of warmer, less concentrated nectar, which also reduces their consumption and flight time.
Passive locomotion in animals is a type of mobility in which the animal depends on their environment for transportation.
The Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis) lives at the surface of the ocean. The gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore (sometimes called a "sail"), remains at the surface, while the remainder is submerged. Because the Portuguese man o' war has no means of propulsion, it is moved by a combination of winds, currents, and tides. The sail is equipped with a siphon. In the event of a surface attack, the sail can be deflated, allowing the organism to briefly submerge.
The wheel spider (Carparachne aureoflava) is a huntsman spider approximately 20 mm in size and native to the Namib Desert of Southern Africa. The spider escapes parasitic pompilid wasps by flipping onto its side and cartwheeling down sand dunes at speeds of up to 44 turns per second. If the spider is on a sloped dune, its rolling speed may be 1 metre per second.
A spider (usually limited to individuals of a small species), or spiderling after hatching, climbs as high as it can, stands on raised legs with its abdomen pointed upwards ("tiptoeing"), and then releases several silk threads from its spinnerets into the air. These form a triangle-shaped parachute that carries the spider on updrafts of winds, where even the slightest breeze transports it. The Earth's static electric field may also provide lift in windless conditions.
The larva of Cicindela dorsalis, the eastern beach tiger beetle, is notable for its ability to leap into the air, loop its body into a rotating wheel and roll along the sand at a high speed using wind to propel itself. If the wind is strong enough, the larva can cover up to 60 metres (200 ft) in this manner. This remarkable ability may have evolved to help the larva escape predators such as the thynnid wasp Methocha.
Members of the largest subfamily of cuckoo wasps, Chrysidinae, are generally kleptoparasites, laying their eggs in host nests, where their larvae consume the host egg or larva while it is still young. Chrysidines are distinguished from the members of other subfamilies in that most have flattened or concave lower abdomens and can curl into a defensive ball when attacked by a potential host, a process known as conglobation. Protected by hard chitin in this position, they are expelled from the nest without injury and can search for a less hostile host.
Fleas can jump vertically up to 18 cm and horizontally up to 33 cm, however, although this form of locomotion is initiated by the flea, it has little control of the jump - they always jump in the same direction, with very little variation in the trajectory between individual jumps.
Although stomatopods typically display the standard locomotion types as seen in true shrimp and lobsters, one species, Nannosquilla decemspinosa, has been observed flipping itself into a crude wheel. The species lives in shallow, sandy areas. At low tides, N. decemspinosa is often stranded by its short rear legs, which are sufficient for locomotion when the body is supported by water, but not on dry land. The mantis shrimp then performs a forward flip in an attempt to roll towards the next tide pool. N. decemspinosa has been observed to roll repeatedly for 2 metres (6.6 ft), but they typically travel less than 1 m (3.3 ft). Again, the animal initiates the movement but has little control during its locomotion.
Some animals change location because they are attached to, or reside on, another animal or moving structure. This is arguably more accurately termed "animal transport".
Remoras are a family (Echeneidae) of ray-finned fish. They grow to 30–90 cm (0.98–2.95 ft) long, and their distinctive first dorsal fins take the form of a modified oval, sucker-like organ with slat-like structures that open and close to create suction and take a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals. By sliding backward, the remora can increase the suction, or it can release itself by swimming forward. Remoras sometimes attach to small boats. They swim well on their own, with a sinuous, or curved, motion. When the remora reaches about 3 cm (1.2 in), the disc is fully formed and the remora can then attach to other animals. The remora's lower jaw projects beyond the upper, and the animal lacks a swim bladder. Some remoras associate primarily with specific host species. They are commonly found attached to sharks, manta rays, whales, turtles, and dugongs. Smaller remoras also fasten onto fish such as tuna and swordfish, and some small remoras travel in the mouths or gills of large manta rays, ocean sunfish, swordfish, and sailfish. The remora benefits by using the host as transport and protection, and also feeds on materials dropped by the host.
In some species of anglerfish, when a male finds a female, he bites into her skin, and releases an enzyme that digests the skin of his mouth and her body, fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male becomes dependent on the female host for survival by receiving nutrients via their shared circulatory system, and provides sperm to the female in return. After fusing, males increase in volume and become much larger relative to free-living males of the species. They live and remain reproductively functional as long as the female lives, and can take part in multiple spawnings. This extreme sexual dimorphism ensures, when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate immediately available. Multiple males can be incorporated into a single individual female with up to eight males in some species, though some taxa appear to have a one male per female rule.
Many parasites are transported by their hosts. For example, endoparasites such as tapeworms live in the alimentary tracts of other animals, and depend on the host's ability to move to distribute their eggs. Ectoparasites such as fleas can move around on the body of their host, but are transported much longer distances by the host's locomotion. Some ectoparasites such as lice can opportunistically hitch a ride on a fly (phoresis) and attempt to find a new host.
Some animals locomote between different media, e.g., from aquatic to arial. This often requires different modes of locomotion in the different media and may require a distinct transitional locomotor behaviour.
There are a large number of semi-aquatic animals (animals that spend part of their life cycle in water, or generally have part of their anatomy underwater). These represent the major taxons of mammals (e.g., beaver, otter, polar bear), birds (e.g., penguins, ducks), reptiles (e.g., anaconda, bog turtle, marine iguana) and amphibians ( e.g., salamanders, frogs, newts).
Some fish use multiple modes of locomotion. Walking fish may swim freely or at other times "walk" along the ocean or river floor, but not on land (e.g., the flying gurnard —which does not actually fly—and batfishes of the family Ogcocephalidae). Amphibious fish, are fish that are able to leave water for extended periods of time. These fish use a range of terrestrial locomotory modes, such as lateral undulation, tripod-like walking (using paired fins and tail), and jumping. Many of these locomotory modes incorporate multiple combinations of pectoral, pelvic and tail fin movement. Examples include eels, mudskippers and the walking catfish. Flying fish can make powerful, self-propelled leaps out of water into air, where their long, wing-like fins enable gliding flight for considerable distances above the water's surface. This uncommon ability is a natural defense mechanism to evade predators. The flights of flying fish are typically around 50 meters, though they can use updrafts at the leading edge of waves to cover distances of up to 400 m (1,300 ft). They can travel at speeds of more than 70 km/h (43 mph). Maximum altitude is 6 m (20 ft) above the surface of the sea. Some accounts have them landing on ships' decks.
When swimming, several marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises and pinnipeds, frequently leap above the water surface whilst maintaining horizontal locomotion. This is done for various reasons. When travelling, jumping can save dolphins and porpoises energy as there is less friction while in the air. This type of travel is known as "porpoising". Other reasons for dolphins and porpoises performing porpoising include orientation, social displays, fighting, non-verbal communication, entertainment and attempting to dislodge parasites. In pinnipeds, two types of porpoising have been identified. "High porpoising" is most often near (within 100 metres) the shore and is often followed by minor course changes; this may help seals get their bearings on beaching or rafting sites. "Low porpoising" is typically observed relatively far (more than 100 metres) from shore and often aborted in favour of anti-predator movements; this may be a way for seals to maximize sub-surface vigilance and thereby reduce their vulnerability to sharks
Some whales raise their (entire) body vertically out of the water in a behaviour known as "breaching".
Some semi-aquatic birds use terrestrial locomotion, surface swimming, underwater swimming and flying (e.g., ducks, swans). Diving birds also use diving locomotion (e.g., dippers, aulks). Some birds (e.g., ratites) have lost the primary locomotion of flight. The largest of these, ostriches, when being pursued by a predator, have been known to reach speeds over 70 km/h (43 mph), and can maintain a steady speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), which makes the ostrich the world's fastest two-legged animal: Ostriches can also locomote by swimming. Penguins either waddle on their feet or slide on their bellies across the snow, a movement called tobogganing, which conserves energy while moving quickly. They also jump with both feet together if they want to move more quickly or cross steep or rocky terrain. To get onto land, penguins sometimes propel themselves upwards at a great speed to leap out the water.
An animal's mode of locomotion may change considerably during its life-cycle. Barnacles are exclusively marine and tend to live in shallow and tidal waters. They have two nektonic (active swimming) larval stages, but as adults, they are sessile (non-motile) suspension feeders. Frequently, adults are found attached to moving objects such as whales and ships, and are thereby transported (passive locomotion) around the oceans.
Animals locomote for a variety of reasons, such as to find food, a mate, a suitable microhabitat, or to escape predators.
Animals use locomotion in a wide variety of ways to procure food. Terrestrial methods include ambush predation, social predation, grazing. Aquatic methods include filterfeeding, grazing, ram feeding, suction feeding, protrusion and pivot feeding. Other methods include parasitism and parasitoidism.
A variety of methods and equipment are used to study animal locomotion:
These methods can be combined. For example, studies frequently combine EMG and kinematics to determine motor pattern, the series of electrical and kinematic events that produce a given movement.
Animal locomotion on the surface layer of water is the study of animal locomotion in the case of small animals that live on the surface layer of water, relying on surface tension to stay afloat.
There are two types of animal locomotion on water, determined by the ratio of the animal's weight to the water's surface tension: those whose weight is supported by the surface tension at rest, and can therefore easily remain on the water's surface without much exertion, and those whose weight is not supported by the water's surface tension at rest, and must therefore exert additional motion in a direction parallel to the water's surface in order to remain above it. A creature such as the basilisk lizard, often dubbed the 'Jesus lizard', has a weight which is larger than the surface tension can support, and is widely known for running across the surface of water. Another example, the western grebe, performs a mating ritual that includes running across the surface of water.Surface living animals such as the water strider typically have hydrophobic feet covered in small hairs that prevent the feet from breaking the surface and becoming wet. Another insect known to walk on the water surface is the ant species Polyrhachis sokolova. The pygmy gecko (Coleodactylus amazonicus), due to its small size and hydrophobic skin is also able to walk on the water surface.According to biophysicist David L. Hu, there are at least 342 species of water striders. As striders increase in size, their legs become proportionately longer, with Gigantometra gigas having a length of over 20 cm requiring a surface tension force of about 40 millinewtons.
Water striders generate thrust by shedding vortices in the water: a series of "U"-shaped vortex filaments is created during the power stroke. The two free ends of the "U" are attached to the water surface. These vortices transfer enough (backward) momentum to the water to propel the animal forwards (note that some momentum is transferred by capillary waves; see Denny's paradox for a more detailed discussion.)Arthropod leg
The arthropod leg is a form of jointed appendage of arthropods, usually used for walking. Many of the terms used for arthropod leg segments (called podomeres) are of Latin origin, and may be confused with terms for bones: coxa (meaning hip, plural coxae), trochanter, femur (plural femora), tibia (plural tibiae), tarsus (plural tarsi), ischium (plural ischia), metatarsus, carpus, dactylus (meaning finger), patella (plural patellae).
Homologies of leg segments between groups are difficult to prove and are the source of much argument. Some authors posit up to eleven segments per leg for the most recent common ancestor of extant arthropods but modern arthropods have eight or fewer. It has been argued that the ancestral leg need not have been so complex, and that other events, such as successive loss of function of a Hox-gene, could result in parallel gains of leg segments.Collision
A collision is the event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other in about a relatively short time. Although the most common use of the word collision refers to incidents in which two or more objects collide with great force, the scientific use of the term implies nothing about the magnitude of the force.
Some examples of physical interactions that scientists would consider collisions are the following:
When an insect lands on a plant's leaf, its legs are said to collide with the leaf.
When a cat strides across a lawn, each contact that its paws make with the ground is considered a collision, as well as each brush of its fur against a blade of grass.
When a boxer throws a punch, his fist is said to collide with the opponent's body.
When an astronomical object merges with a black hole, they are considered to collide.Some colloquial uses of the word collision are the following:
A traffic collision involves at least one automobile.
A mid-air collision occurs between airplanes.
A ship collision accurately involves at least two moving maritime vessels hitting each other. (See allision below.)Denny's paradox
In the study of animal locomotion on the surface layer of water, Denny's paradox refers to the apparent impossibility of surface-dwelling animals such as the water strider generating enough propulsive force to move. It is named after Mark Denny. If capillary waves are assumed to generate the momentum transfer to the water, the animal's legs must move faster than the phase speed of the waves, given by
where is the acceleration due to gravity, is the strength of surface tension, and the density of water. For standard conditions, this works out to be about 0.23 m/s.
Infant water striders' legs move at speeds much less than this and, according to this physical picture, cannot move.
Writing in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, David Hu and John Bush state that Denny's paradox "rested on two flawed assumptions. First, water striders' motion was assumed to rely on the generation of capillary waves, since the propulsive force was thought to be that associated with wave drag on the driving leg. Second, in order to generate capillary waves, it was assumed that the strider leg speed must exceed the minimum wave speed, . We note that this second assumption is strictly true only for steady motions".Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge (; 9 April 1830 – 8 May 1904, born Edward James Muggeridge) was an English-American photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion, and early work in motion-picture projection. He adopted the first name Eadweard as the original Anglo-Saxon form of Edward, and the surname Muybridge, believing it to be similarly archaic.Born in England, at age 20 he emigrated to America as a bookseller, first to New York, and then to San Francisco. Planning a return trip to Europe in 1860, he suffered serious head injuries in a stagecoach crash in Texas. He spent the next few years recuperating in England, where he took up professional photography, learning the wet-plate collodion process, and secured at least two British patents for his inventions. He went back to San Francisco in 1867. In 1868 he exhibited large photographs of Yosemite Valley, which made him world-famous.
In 1874 Muybridge shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns, his wife's lover, but was acquitted in a jury trial on the grounds of justifiable homicide. In 1875 he travelled for more than a year in Central America on a photographic expedition.
Today, Muybridge is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion in 1877 and 1878, which used multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip used in cinematography. In the 1880s, he entered a very productive period at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, producing over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion, capturing what the human eye could not distinguish as separate movements.
During his later years, Muybridge gave many public lectures and demonstrations of his photography and early motion picture sequences, returning frequently to England and Europe to publicise his work. He also edited and published compilations of his work, which greatly influenced visual artists and the developing fields of scientific and industrial photography. He returned to his native England permanently in 1894. In 1904, the Kingston Museum, containing a collection of his equipment, was opened in his hometown.Fish locomotion
Fish locomotion is the variety of types of animal locomotion used by fish, principally by swimming. This however is achieved in different groups of fish by a variety of mechanisms of propulsion in water, most often by wavelike movements of the fish's body and tail, and in various specialised fish by movements of the fins. The major forms of locomotion in fish are anguilliform, in which a wave passes evenly along a long slender body; sub-carangiform, in which the wave increases quickly in amplitude towards the tail; carangiform, in which the wave is concentrated near the tail, which oscillates rapidly; thunniform, rapid swimming with a large powerful crescent-shaped tail; and ostraciiform, with almost no oscillation except of the tail fin. More specialised fish include movement by pectoral fins with a mainly stiff body, as in the sunfish; and movement by propagating a wave along the long fins with a motionless body in fish with electric organs such as the knifefish.
In addition, some fish can variously "walk", i.e., move over land, burrow in mud, and glide through the air.Leg
A leg is a weight-bearing and locomotive anatomical structure, usually having a columnar shape. During locomotion, legs function as "extensible struts". The combination of movements at all joints can be modeled as a single, linear element capable of changing length and rotating about an omnidirectional "hip" joint.
As an anatomical animal structure it is used for locomotion. The distal end is often modified to distribute force (such as a foot). Most animals have an even number of legs.
As a component of furniture, it is used for the economy of materials needed to provide the support for the useful surface such as the table top or chair seat.Metachronal rhythm
A metachronal rhythm or metachronal wave refers to wavy movements produced by the sequential action (as opposed to synchronized) of structures such as cilia, segments of worms or legs. These movements produce the appearance of a travelling wave.
A Mexican wave is a large scale example of a metachronal wave. This pattern is found widely in nature such as on the cilia of many aquatic organisms such as ctenophores, molluscs, ciliates as well as on the epithelial surfaces of many body organs. Individual cilia, when part of a metachronal wave being used for protist locomotion, individually beat in a pattern similar to the planar stroke of a flagellum. The difference is that the recovery stroke is at 90 degrees to the power stroke, so that the cilia avoid hitting each other.
Metachronal rhythms may be seen in the coordinated movements of the legs of millipedes and other multi-legged land invertebrates, as well as in the coordinated movements of social insects.Such metachronal motion has been shown to enhance fluid transport properties in natural cilia. Metachronal motion has also been replicated in synthetic microfluidic systems using magnetic filaments.Motility
Motility is the ability of an organism to move independently, using metabolic energy. This is in contrast to mobility, which describes the ability of an object to be moved. Motility is genetically determined, but may be affected by environmental factors. For instance, muscles give animals motility but the consumption of hydrogen cyanide (the environmental factor in this case) would adversely affect muscle physiology, causing them to stiffen, leading to rigor mortis. In addition to animal locomotion, most animals are motile (some move by passive locomotion). The term applies to bacteria and other microorganisms, and to some multicellular organisms, as well as to some mechanisms of fluid flow in multicellular organs and tissue. Motile marine animals are commonly called free-swimming, and motile non-parasitic organisms are called free-living.Motility also refers to an organism's ability to move food through its digestive tract. There are two types of intestinal motility – peristalsis and segmentation. This motility is brought about by the contraction of smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract which mix the luminal contents with various secretions (segmentation) and move contents through the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus (peristalsis).Movement of Animals
Movement of Animals (or On the Motion of Animals; Greek Περὶ ζῴων κινήσεως; Latin De Motu Animalium) is one of Aristotle's major texts on biology. It sets out the general principles of animal locomotion.Phoresis
Phoresis, or phoresy, is rooted in the Greek words phoras (bearing) and phor (thief). It is used to describe a non-permanent, commensalistic interaction in which one organism (a phoront or phoretic) attaches itself to another (the host) solely for the purpose of travel. Phoresis has been observed directly in ticks and mites since the 1700s and indirectly in fossils 320 million years old, but is not restricted to arthropods or animals. Plants with seeds that disperse by attaching themselves to animals are also considered to be phoretic. The term, originally defined in 1896 as a relationship in which the host acts as a vehicle for its passenger, clashed with other terminology being developed at the time, so constraints on the length of time, feeding and ontogeny are now considered. Phoresis is used as a strategy for dispersal, seasonal migration, transport to new host/habitat escaping ephemeral habitats, reducing inbreeding depression. In addition to the benefits afforded to individuals and species, its presence can add to the ecological diversity and complexity of an ecosystem.Propulsion
Propulsion means to push forward or drive an object forward . The term is derived from two Latin words: pro, meaning before or forward; and pellere, meaning to drive.
A propulsion system consists of a source of mechanical power, and a propulsor (means of converting this power into propulsive force).
A technological system uses an engine or motor as the power source (commonly called a powerplant), and wheels and axles, propellers, or a propulsive nozzle to generate the force. Components such as clutches or gearboxes may be needed to connect the motor to axles, wheels, or propellers.
Biological propulsion systems use an animal's muscles as the power source, and limbs such as wings, fins or legs as the propulsors.
A technological/biological system may use human, or trained animal, muscular work to power a mechanical device.Race track
A race track (or "racetrack", "racing track" or "racing circuit") is a facility built for racing of vehicles, athletes, or animals (e.g. horse racing or greyhound racing). A race track also may feature grandstands or concourses. Racetracks are also used in the study of animal locomotion. Some motorsport tracks are called speedways.
A racetrack is a permanent facility or building. Racecourse is an alternate term for a horse racing track, found in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. Race tracks built for bicycles are known as velodromes. Circuit is a common alternate term for racetrack, given the circuit configuration of most race tracks, allowing races to occur over several laps.
A race course, as opposed to a racecourse, is a non-permanent track for sports, particularly road running, water sports, road racing, or rallying. Many sports usually held on racetracks also can occur on temporary tracks, such as the Monaco Grand Prix in Formula One.Rectilinear
Rectilinear means related to a straight line; it may refer to:
Rectilinear grid, a tessellation of the Euclidean plane
Rectilinear lens, a photographic lens
Rectilinear locomotion, a form of animal locomotion
Rectilinear polygon, a polygon whose edges meet at right angles
Rectilinear propagation, a property of waves
Rectilinear Research Corporation, a now defunct manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers
Rectilinear style, the third historical division of English Gothic architecture
Rectilinear motion or linear motion is motion along a straight line
Rectilinear prophecy, where a straight line can be drawn from the prophecy to the fulfillment without any branches as in the case of typological interpretationsSessility (motility)
Sessility is the biological property of an organism describing its lack of a means of self-locomotion. Absent natural motility sessile organisms are normally immobile. This is distinct from the botanical meaning of sessility, which refers to an organism or biological structure attached directly by its base without a stalk.
Sessile organisms can move via external forces (such as water currents), but are usually permanently attached to something. Organisms such as corals lay down their own substrate from which they grow. Other sessile organisms grow from a solid such as a rock, dead tree trunk, or a manmade object such as a buoy or ship's hull.Tradeoffs for locomotion in air and water
Certain species of fish and birds are able to locomote in both air and water, two fluid media with very different properties. A fluid is a particular phase of matter that deforms under shear stresses and includes any type of liquid or gas. Because fluids are easily deformable and move in response to applied forces, efficiently locomoting in a fluid medium presents unique challenges. Specific morphological characteristics are therefore required in animal species that primarily depend on fluidic locomotion. Because the properties of air and water are so different, swimming and flying have very disparate morphological requirements. As a result, despite the large diversity of animals that are capable of flight or swimming, only a limited number of these species have mastered the ability to both fly and swim. These species demonstrate distinct morphological and behavioral tradeoffs associated with transitioning from air to water and water to air.Undulatory locomotion
Undulatory locomotion is the type of motion characterized by wave-like movement patterns that act to propel an animal forward. Examples of this type of gait include crawling in snakes, or swimming in the lamprey. Although this is typically the type of gait utilized by limbless animals, some creatures with limbs, such as the salamander, choose to forgo use of their legs in certain environments and exhibit undulatory locomotion. This movement strategy is important to study in order to create novel robotic devices capable of traversing a variety of environments.
Physiology of muscles