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Low effective mechanical advantage of giraffes’ limbs during walking reveals trade-off between limb length and locomotor performance

Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) possess specialized locomotor morphology, namely elongate and gracile distal limbs. While this contributes to their overall height and enhances feeding behavior, we propose that the combination of long limb segments and modest muscle lever arms results in low effective mechanical advantage (EMA, the ratio of in-lever to out-lever moment arms), when compared with other cursorial mammals. To test this, we used a combination of experimentally measured kinematics and ground reaction forces (GRFs), musculoskeletal modeling, and inverse dynamics

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The evolutionary biomechanics of locomotor function in giant land animals

Giant land vertebrates have evolved more than 30 times, notably in dinosaurs and mammals. The evolutionary and biomechanical perspectives considered here unify data from extant and extinct species, assessing current theory regarding how the locomotor biomechanics of giants has evolved. In terrestrial tetrapods, isometric and allometric scaling patterns of bones are evident throughout evolutionary history, reflecting general trends and lineage-specific divergences as animals evolve giant size. Added to data on the scaling of other supportive tissues and neuromuscular control, these

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The running kinematics of free-roaming giraffes, measured using a low cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

The study of animal locomotion can be logistically challenging, especially in the case of large or unhandleable animals in uncontrolled environments. Here we demonstrate the utility of a low cost unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in measuring two-dimensional running kinematics from free-roaming giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) in the Free State Province, South Africa. We collected 120 Hz video of running giraffes, and calibrated each video frame using metatarsal length as a constant object of scale. We tested a number of methods

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