Wild Things: Life as We Know It
Running elephants, far-flying mosquitos, ancient crocodiles and more...
- By T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Erica R. Hendry, Jesse Rhodes and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, May 2010
(Hornbil Images / Alamy)
Name: The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).
Walks: With at least two, and sometimes three, feet on the ground at the same time, according to a new study of the animal’s gait at different speeds.
Runs: Not really, say the researchers, who tested elephants at a conservation center in Thailand by having the animals move at different speeds across a giant platform that measured forces. According to some definitions, a run requires having all feet off the ground at once.
Bounces: Much less than you’d think. Elephants accelerate by taking quicker and longer steps. Since they are always well grounded, they have a smoother stride.
Learn more about Asian elephants at the Encyclopedia of Life.
“Population genetic data suggest a role for mosquito-mediated dispersal of West Nile virus across the western United States,” Meera Venkatesan and Jason L. Rasgon, Molecular Ecology, March 8, 2010
“Nectar yeasts warm the flowers of a winter-blooming plant,” Carlos M. Herrera and María I. Pozo, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, February 10, 2010
“Biomechanics of locomotion in Asian elephants,” J. J. Genin et al., Journal of Experimental Biology, February 12, 2010
“A Circadian Clock Is Not Required in an Arctic Mammal,” Weiqun Lu et al., Current Biology, March 11, 2010
“A New Horned Crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Sites at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,” Christopher A. Brochu et al., PLoS One, February 24, 2010