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Elephant legs bend like ‘big human limb’

Mechanics suggest creatures more limber than thought

By
2:51pm, March 29, 2010

View a video of a running elephant that participated in the study.

Elephants cruise on four-wheel drive and bendy knees using a gait different from most quadrupeds, a new study shows.

Whereas most four-legged animals use their front legs to stop and their back legs to go, elephants split the work evenly.

“There’s no obvious division of labor,” says study coauthor Lei Ren of the University of Manchester in England. “They all work together to achieve the same goals.”

Also, contrary to long-held belief, elephants’ legs are not stiff columns. Their joints allow more flex than horses’ do, and are almost exactly as bendy as human legs. The study was published o

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