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Safety first: how running birds negotiate uneven terrain

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RESEARCHERS at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) have discovered that ground-dwelling birds all prioritise leg safety and economy over stability when moving over uneven terrain, regardless of their size.

A paper and an accompanying news item published in the Journal of Experimental Biology (vol 217, pp 3767, 3786-3796) discuss factors that influence how birds choose to negotiate uneven terrain. The research was carried out by Aleksandra Birn-Jeffery and Monica Daley at the RVC, together with three researchers based in Oregon. Dr Daley, senior lecturer in locomotor biomechanics at the RVC, supervised Dr Birn-Jeffery while she was studying for her PhD at the college's structure and motion laboratory. Dr Birn-Jeffery is now based at the University of Cambridge. They suggest that their findings could be useful in the …

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