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Data from: Mechanical evidence that flamingos can support their body on one leg with little active muscular force

Citation

Chang, Young-Hui; Ting, Lena H. (2017), Data from: Mechanical evidence that flamingos can support their body on one leg with little active muscular force, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.917km

Abstract

Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae) often stand and sleep on one leg for long periods, but it is unknown how much active muscle contractile force they use for the mechanical demands of standing on one leg: body weight support and maintaining balance. First, we demonstrated that flamingo cadavers could passively support body weight on one leg without any muscle activity while adopting a stable, unchanging, joint posture resembling that seen in live flamingos. By contrast, the cadaveric flamingo could not be stably held in a two-legged pose, suggesting a greater necessity for active muscle force to stabilize two-legged versus one-legged postures. Our results suggest that flamingos engage a passively engaged gravitational stay apparatus (proximally located) for weight support during one-legged standing. Second, we discovered that live flamingos standing on one leg have markedly reduced body sway during quiescent versus alert behaviours, with the point of force application directly under the distal joint, reducing the need for muscular joint torque. Taken together, our results highlight the possibility that flamingos stand for long durations on one leg without exacting high muscular forces and, thus, with little energetic expenditure.

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