Let us learn about the gait of animals and explore how different animals move or the body movements in earthworms, snails, cockroaches, birds, fish, and snakes.
What is Gait of Animals?
The Gait of animals refers to the pattern of movement of the limbs of animals and humans during locomotion. Due to differences in anatomy, various animals use different gaits. The gait of animals is based on the speed of animals, the environment they live in, and various other factors.
Have you ever seen an earthworm move? Have you carefully observed its movement? The body of an earthworm is made up of many rings joined end to end. An earthworm does not have bones. It has muscles that help to extend and shorten the body. During movement, the earthworm first extends the front part of the body, keeping the rear portion fixed to the ground.
Then it fixes the front end and releases the rear end. It then shortens the body and pulls the rear end forward. This makes it move forward by a small distance. Repeating such muscle expansions and contractions, the earthworm can move through the soil. The body secretes a slimy substance to help the movement. How does it fix parts of its body to the ground? Under its body, it has a large number of tiny bristles (hair-like structures) projecting out.
The bristles are connected with muscles. The bristles help to get a good grip on the ground. The earthworm, actually, eats its way through the soil! Its body then throws away the undigested part of the material that it eats. This activity of an earthworm makes the soil more useful for plants.
Can you see this part on the snail’s body? This is called the shell and it is the outer skeleton of the snail but is not made of bones. The shell is a single unit and does not help in moving from place to place. It has to be dragged along.
During the movement of the snail, a thick structure and the head of the snail may come out of an opening in the shell. The thick structure is its foot, made of strong muscles.
Cockroaches walk and climb as well as fly in the air. They have three pairs of legs. These help in walking. The body is covered with a hard outer skeleton. This outer skeleton is made of different units joined together and that permits movement.
There are two pairs of wings attached to the breast. The cockroaches have distinct muscles — those near the legs move the legs for walking. The breast muscles move the wings when the cockroach flies.
Birds fly in the air and walk on the ground. Some birds like ducks and swans also swim in the water. The birds can fly because their bodies are well suited for flying. Their bones are hollow and light. The bones of the hind limbs are typical for walking and perching. The bony parts of the forelimbs are modified as wings. The shoulder bones are strong. The breast bones are modified to hold muscles of flight which is used to move the wings up and down.
Have you seen a boat floating in the water? Have you noticed that the shape of a boat is somewhat that of a fish? The head and tail of the fish are smaller than the middle portion of the body – the body tapers at both ends. This body shape is called streamlined. The shape is such that water can flow around it easily and allow the fish to move in the water.
The skeleton of the fish is covered with strong muscles. During swimming, muscles make the front part of the body curve to one side and the tail part swings towards the opposite side. The fish forms a curve as shown here Then, quickly, the body and tail curve to the other side. This makes a jerk and pushes the body forward.
A series of such jerks make the fish swim ahead. This is helped by the fins of the tail. Fish also have other fins on their body which mainly help to keep the balance of the body and to keep direction, while swimming.
How do snakes move?
Have you seen a snake slither? Does it move straight? Snakes have a long backbone. They have many thin muscles. They are connected to each other even though they are far from one another. They also interconnect the backbone, ribs, and skin.
The snake’s body curves into many loops. Each loop of the snake gives it a forward push by pressing against the ground. Since its long body makes many loops and each loop gives it this push, the snake moves forward very fast and not in a straight line.