Work minimization accounts for footfall phasing in slow quadrupedal gaits

Usherwood, J R and Self Davies, Z T (2017) Work minimization accounts for footfall phasing in slow quadrupedal gaits. eLife, 6. e29495.

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Abstract

Quadrupeds, like most bipeds, tend to walk with an even left/right footfall timing. However, the phasing between hind and forelimbs shows considerable variation. Here, we account for this variation by modeling and explaining the influence of hind-fore limb phasing on mechanical work requirements. These mechanics account for the different strategies used by: (1) slow animals (a group including crocodile, tortoise, hippopotamus and some babies); (2) normal medium to large mammals; and (3) (with an appropriate minus sign) sloths undertaking suspended locomotion across a range of speeds. While the unusual hind-fore phasing of primates does not match global work minimizing predictions, it does approach an only slightly more costly local minimum. Phases predicted to be particularly costly have not been reported in nature.

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