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Mechanics of cutting maneuvers by ostriches (Struthio camelus)
Devin L. Jindrich, Nicola C. Smith, Karin Jespers, Alan M. Wilson


We studied the strategies used by cursorial bipeds (ostriches) to maneuver during running. Eight ostriches were induced to run along a trackway and execute turns. Ground reaction forces and three-dimensional kinematics of the body and leg joints were simultaneously recorded, allowing calculation of joint angles and quasi-static net joint torques. Sidesteps, where the leg on the outside of the turn changes the movement direction, and crossovers using the inside leg, occurred with nearly equal frequency. Ostriches executed maneuvers using a simple control strategy that required minimal changes to leg kinematics or net torque production at individual joints. Although ostriches did use acceleration or braking forces to control body rotation, their morphology allowed for both crossovers and sidesteps to be accomplished with minimal net acceleratory/braking force production. Moreover, body roll and ab/adduction of the leg shifted the foot position away from the turn direction, reducing the acceleratory/braking forces required to prevent under- or over-rotation and aligning the leg with the ground reaction force.

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