Charging elephants don’t run

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Asian elephants can charge up to 20 km/h, a quick pace for animals of their size. But despite appearances, they don’t technically run, say scientists from Belgium, Italy and Thailand.

The international team tracked the footfall patterns of 34 elephants to see how their centre of mass changed over the course of their stride. The conclusion: The animals trot with their forelegs and walk with their hind legs when moving at high speeds.

Their half-walk, half-trot is economical — costing approximately one third of the energy expended by humans, relative to size — because their centre of mass bounces less than other animals.

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