Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Pierre LemelinEmail author
  • Daniel Schmitt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1458-1



A locomotor pattern typical of legged animals that can be described either by the sequence of footfalls or movements of the center of mass over a stride.

Defining Gaits: Duty Factor and Limb Phase

The “gait” of four-legged land vertebrates (known as tetrapods) involves a precise sequence and coordination of the limbs as forward movement takes place. It is the sequence and timing of the limb contacts that essentially define different gait types. As tetrapods move forward, each limb touches the ground, moves backward, is lifted off the ground, and brought forward again. This pattern results in a contact phase (called the support or stance phase) and a noncontact phase (called the swing phase), which together represent a locomotor cycle or stride. A few animals like birds, fast-moving reptiles, some nonhuman primates, and humans most obviously adopt a bipedal gait in which the entire weight of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Khalil Iskarous
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA