Have you ever seen how echidnas walk? If so, you must have noticed their unusual walking gait. A paper published in Journal of Zoology investigates the evolutionary transition of mammalian locomotion from sprawling to parasagittal by examining the ‘transitional’ walking gait of long-beaked echidnas (Zaglossus bruijni). The paper contains a series of photographs of a walking echidna that perfectly illustrates how, instead of the diagonal, right-hand-moves-with-the-left-foot-and-vice-versa gait that we generally see in mammals, echidnas are yawing themselves from side to side in a more right-hand-moves-with-the-right-foot-etc fashion, which inevitably makes their walk look unusual and endearingly comical! Take a look at this great video, provided as online supplementary material with the paper, and you’ll see what I mean.
By Elina Rantanen