A new study recently discovered an interesting fact about kangaroos. The Australian marsupial uses sometimes a fifth leg. Previously, scientist thought the kangaroo’s tail worked as a way to counterbalance and act like a springboard when it hops.
Scientists confirm the importance of a kangaroo’s tail
Researchers confirmed that kangaroo’s tail is actually stronger than it’s smaller forelegs. The tail is just as strong as the leg of a human on a stroll. Scientists took the initiative further by studying the mechanics of a kangaroo’s tail. They use two specimens (one female and one male) which were trained to saunter across a pressure-measuring platform. It was then discovered the animal’s tail is just as propulsive as the hind legs.
The study’s lead researcher Terry Dawson claimed this was something they expected. The muscles of the kangaroo’s tail and legs are very aerobic thanks to the mitochondria providing energy. Dawson continued to discuss how the muscle structure in the front legs have a minimal amount of mitochondria. The front legs also were not designed for propulsion, so they fill the role of being strut. He concluded his understanding of not only where that energy is going but also why kangaroos get up to hop instead of walk five meters.
This confirms what scientists knew all along
Perhaps even more surprising is the fact kangaroos spend more time walking slowly than they do hopping. This shows just how important their tails are when walking. This is the first study to conclusively show and provide key evidence on how crucial a kangaroo’s tail is to its movement. Andrew Biewener from Harvard University is not surprised at all by these findings and it confirms something he knew all along: kangaroos become five-legged animals when using their tails.