New research published this week (8 December) has identified the fundamental differences between two and four legged animals that explain what limits their top speeds.
The research, published in the journals Nature and Biology Letters and funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), shows how a human running into a high-speed corner is forced to slow down and increase the amount of time their foot is in contact with the ground in order to withstand increased centripetal forces. Four legged animals do not appear to have this limitation.
The scientists at The Royal Veterinary College studied the results of 200m races at the 2004 Olympics and World Indoor Championships to demonstrate that the tighter bends used for the indoor event slow the runners down. To examine if this affects other animals they used high-speed video recording of greyhounds running time trials in an arena. Greyhounds barely change their stride when they sprint around and successfully withstand the increased forces. This is because they appear to power their running in a completely different way to humans.
Matt Goode | alfa
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