International Congress of Neuroethology, College Park, Md., August 5–10 | Science News

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International Congress of Neuroethology, College Park, Md., August 5–10

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12:45pm, September 7, 2012

Galloping dung beetles
Pachysoma dung beetles in Africa have a gait never before described in insects — almost a gallop. Biologists hadn’t recognized the motion because it’s hard to see scuttling beetle legs, said Jochen Smolka of Sweden's Lund University. He videotaped beetle sprints and analyzed them in slow replays. Most insects move their six legs as two tripods. In one stride, the first and last legs on one side of the animal plus the middle one on the other side support the weight while the other legs step forward. In Pachysoma, the front two leg pairs power the gait, Smolka reported August 8. When the front pairs support the body, the middle pair bounds forward. The middle legs do the supporting when the front ones bound.

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