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give_seek's avatar

What are the aerodynamic mechanics of how a gazelle runs and changes direction?

Asked by give_seek (503 points ) November 11th, 2011

I’m looking for a metaphor for ways in which we can change our life’s direction. I started thinking about how gazelles so often evade cheetahs by sudden and powerful changes in direction.

Does anyone know if a website, or book, that actually explains (breaks down) how they accomplish this and are still able to maintain their momentum?

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6 Answers

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marinelife's avatar

Here is one document.

thorninmud's avatar

The gazelles have one interesting bio-mechanical edge. Like several other large ungulates, they have particularly long and thick tendons in their legs that act like springs. These tendons store energy as the hoof impacts the ground, and release it as the hoof pushes off. This effect is especially pronounced in the heavy loading that occurs in sudden turns. Predators that lack this mechanism have to fight that extra loading using muscle power alone.

Gazelles have an interesting behavior in the presence of predators that appears to be a way of demonstrating this advantage to the predator and perhaps discourage pursuit. The gazelle will simply leap straight upward. This actually slows the gazelle down, since it doesn’t put any distance between it and the predator, but it’s thought to be intended to show the predator what it’ll be up against if it engages the chase.

zensky's avatar

Whiplash when I tried it.

Varient's avatar

Wow,.. Learn something new everyday,.. Thank you Marinelife.

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