Mammal Diversity

Evolution of limbs and movement

How Do Mammals Move?

Body form and locomotion.
Diagram of Mammal limb function and evolution

How do legs and feet differ among different mammal species that walk or run on all four legs? The fastest runners have relatively longer bones and legs. The bones are all the same ones, just longer.

The deer actually walks on the extended tips of its toes, the hooves. Hooves are thicker and tougher than the claws or nails of other kinds of mammals.

The coyote walks on its toes.

The bear places its entire hind foot on the ground and has a heel just as humans do. These same differences in leg and foot structure occur in a variety of mammal orders, depending on the life style and demand for walking and running speed in each species.

In the illustration, notice how the footprint (as you would see it on the ground) matches the anatomy of the foot.

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