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Animal movement

For a kangaroo, hopping is a fast and efficient way of covering long distances across the dry Australian grasslands in search of...Read More >>For a kangaroo, hopping is a fast and efficient way of covering long distances across the dry Australian grasslands in search of food and water. They push off with their back feet and lean forwards as they leap into the air. They can jump two metres (more than 6 feet) high and cover nearly 10 metres (around 30 feet) in a single bound. Their long tails keep them balanced when they bound. Kangaroos can reach speeds of 70 km/h (more than 40 mph) in short bursts. One of the key features of an animal is that it moves. It moves parts of its body when it opens its mouth, bends its neck or curls its tentacles. Most creatures also move about in their surroundings. They run, walk, jump, hop, slither, swim or fly. All animal movement is made possible by muscles. A gorilla has about 640 muscles, making up about two-fifths of its body weight. A few animals do not move about, at least as adults. Barnacles and mussels are stuck to seashore rocks. But they were mobile during their young, or larval, stages.



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Moving through water

Water is much denser than air and so resists movement more. To travel through water quickly, creatures must be smooth and streamlined so the water slips past them easily. Fish swish their tails from side to side to provide the forward propulsive force for swimming. A whale or dolphin moves its fluke tail up and down to produce the same effect. A fish’s fins and a dolphin’s flippers provide control for steering, slowing and going up or down. Penguins flap their wings and turtles their flippers to “fly” through the water.
 

Kangaroos are the only large animals that get around by hopping.

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