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A new galloping gait in an insect

  • Jochen Smolka
  • Marcus J. Byrne
  • Clarke H. Scholtz
  • Marie Dacke
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 913-915
Publication/Series: Current Biology
Volume: 23
Issue: 20
Document type: Journal article (letter)
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

An estimated three million insect species all walk using variations

of the alternating tripod gait. At any one time, these animals hold one stable triangle of legs steady while swinging the opposite triangle forward. Here, we report the discovery that three different

flightless desert dung beetles use an additional gallop-like gait, which has never been described in any insect before. Like a bounding hare, the beetles propel their body forward by synchronously stepping with both middle legs and then both front legs. Surprisingly, this peculiar galloping gait delivers lower speeds than the alternating tripod gait. Why these beetles have shifted so radically away from the most widely used walking style on our planet is as yet unknown.


  • Zoology
  • desert
  • insect gaits
  • locomotion
  • dung beetles


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 1879-0445
Marie Dacke
E-mail: marie [dot] dacke [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

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