"It is usually assumed that efficiency is what matters in evolution," said Daniel Schmitt, a Duke associate professor of evolutionary anthropology. "We've found that's too simple a way of looking at evolution, because there are some animals that need to operate at high energy cost and low efficiency."
In a report published online Nov. 26 in the research journal Public Library of Science (PLoS), Schmitt and two former Duke co-researchers followed up on a scientific hunch by measuring and videotaping how six housecats moved along a 6 yard-long runway in pursuit of food treats or feline toys.
Long-distance chase predators like dogs can reduce their muscular work needed to move forward by as much as 70 percent by allowing their body to rise and fall and exchanging potential and kinetic energy with each step. In contrast, the maximum for cats is about 37 percent and much lower than that in a stalking posture, the report found.
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