Kangaroos have a unique appearance, and one of the first things you notice about them is that they have a huge tail. Scientists have been studying kangaroos’ tales for a while now and have finally agreed about the role they have.
After measuring the force exerted from the tail on the ground, the researchers found it to be the key factor for their moving speed, even more than their legs. Kangaroos plant their tales on the ground before moving, basically using them as a third leg. This is a significant find that gives tail more credit than the previous theory that it was simply used for balance.
Speaking for Guardian Australia, Terry Dawson, an academic from the University of New South Wales, explained:
“We weren’t quite sure why kangaroos diverged so much from the normal patterns of movement found in other animals.”
“Previous studies thought the tail was just a strut, but it’s actually the front legs which are struts, they don’t provide much force. It’s the back legs and tail which provide the propulsion, much more than we previously thought,” he continued.
“We didn’t know the kangaroos were using the tail as a third leg. Without that, the tail wouldn’t need to be so strong, although it would need to be pretty heavy because it is a large animal moving at speed. The males also use it for fighting, sometimes balancing on it completely in order to kick another kangaroo,” Dawson said.