Medescape

Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Sneaky Cats

Evolutionary researchers at Duke University recently published a study where they investigate the differences in gait between cats and dogs, seen from an evolutionary point of view. What they found was that evolution seems to have take two entirely different paths. Dogs have a very energy-efficient style of running, so they can chase prey over larger areas without burning too much energy. Cats on the other hand have a much more inefficient gait, but it is perfect for slow movements, enabling them to sneak up on prey covertly. The study was published in the Public Library of Science.

In the study, Kristin Bishop, Daniel Schmitt and Anita Pai videotaped six housecats moving along a runway chasing food/toys++. They found that the cats were able to reduce the muscular work needed to move forwards by about 37%, while long-distance predators, like dogs, are able to reduce it by 70%. This suggest a trade-off for the cats where the ability to move stealthily evolved at the cost of more inefficient gait. 

Oh, and humans have about the same gait efficiency as dogs, ie about 70%. Hurray for bipedalism! 

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December 4, 2008 - Posted by | Biology, Evolution, Creationism and ID | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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