Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Why Bigger Animals Aren't Always Faster



ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2012) — New research in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoologyshows why bigger isn't always better when it comes to sprinting speed.

"Typically, bigger animals tend to run faster than smaller animals, because they have longer legs," said Christofer J. Clemente of Harvard University, who led the research. "But this only works up to a point. The fastest land animal is neither the biggest nor the smallest, but something in between. Think about the size of an elephant, a mouse and a cheetah."

Clemente and his team studied monitor lizards to show that that the same principle applies within species as well as across species, and to identify why this is the case. Because adult monitor lizards vary substantially in size, they are an ideal species for testing how size affects speed. The researchers timed and photographed monitors ranging from two to 12 pounds, as sprinted across a 45-foot track.

The researchers found that the midsize lizards were fastest-and they discovered why.

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