never tire of seeing an alligator walking on land. The way an alligator
walks on land has been defined as a "slow trot". That may sound
A "trot" is one way that a tetrapod (4-footed animal) can move on land. A trot is defined as moving with legs in diagonal pairs--that is, a front leg
and the back leg of the opposite side move forward together. In a faster animal-like a dog-this is usually accompanied by the animal leaving the ground
briefly as demonstrated in this animated gif of my dog, Piper, trotting. Compare how her opposite-side legs move with those of the alligators below.
or crocodylian walking physiology has been studied many times. I've
gotten some information from two of these studies. One of them is
"LOCOMOTION IN ALLIGATOR MISSISSIPPIENSIS: KINEMATIC EFFECTS OF SPEED
AND POSTURE AND THEIR RELEVANCE TO THE SPRAWLING-TO-ERECT PARADIGM", by
Stephen M. Reilly* AND Jason A. Elias. I've referred to this in
2009 on another of my pages here.
Samples in this study show that alligators normally use a high walk to move longer distances, while they'll use the "sprawling" posture for short distances.(p 2568) When I watched the alligator with the deer carcass, it attempted to high walk
first, but kept stepping on the carcass. Finally, it started shoving the carcass, starting with a sprawling crawl, and pushing the carcass in front of it. This prevented the carcass from getting under the alligator. The alligator then tried to lift its
body higher, while still pushing the carcass. More of this incident can be seen on another of my pages here.
This study states that alligators prefer the high walk in a "walking trot gait" to move over land. In the study, a "trot" is defined as "using coordinated footfalls of diagonal limb couplets". That is, front leg and opposite side back leg
move forward at the same time (p. 2562). Also, alligators use a "trot" whether they high walk, or low sprawl.
Also, the "low sprawl" walk in alligators does not work like the sprawling gait of salamanders or lizards. It is more like the alligator's high walk, but just in a lower profile.
(p 2571) .
07/03/2011 07/17/2011 08/14/2011 06/02/2013
05/25/2014 04/19/2015 03/15/2015 04/19/2015
study is "The tale of the tail: limb function and locomotor mechanics
in Alligator mississippiensis" by, Jeffrey S. Willey1,*, Audrone R.
Biknevicius2,†, Stephen M. Reilly1 and Kathleen D. Earls2
Observations in this study include:
While an alligator is walking it has to drag its tail, which is about 28 percent of its body mass.(p. 553)(p. 560)
While an alligator is walking about 16% of the forelimb and 19% of the hindlimb lift force is pushing to the side.
During a high walk, the diagonal limbs (those touching the ground at any time) support 36.8% (front leg) and 51.3%(back leg) of the alligator's weight. The
remaining 11.8% is supported by the tail.(p 557)
Any side-to-side movements made by the alligator as it walks may help recover about 7% of the energy it expends by lifting its body and dragging its tail. (p.562)
seen at least one other study that indicates that the osteoderms in an
alligator's back (each bump on the back of an alligator is covering a
disk-shaped bone, called an osteoderm) helps keep the back
rigid-especially during the high walk. The
osteoderms form a support surface, working with connective tissue and the skeleton, to stop the back from sinking in the middle, and also to stop it from bending side-to-side too much.
animated gifs are examples of alligators walking on land at the park. I never
get tired of seeing this (and I also have video clips...I've been lucky enough to see this many times). The
better animated gifs above were made from photos shot at
30 frames per second. These animated gifs illustrate the look of the high walk. The sequence with the deer is included because of the way the alligator pushed the deer across the trail, illustrating the "sprawling trot". I think that looking
at the single frames one after another helps show the slight up-and-down shift, and also the forward "pull" of the tail with the back legs. This trot is what makes an alligator track easily-recognizable. The image below shows an alligator track.
The drag mark from the tail is clearly-visible. It's possible to see the back foot (with 4 toes) right next to and behind the front foot (smaller, with 5 toes). The animated gif next shows a single step highlighted.
If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:
Brazos Bend State Park The main page.
Bend State Park Volunteer's Page The
volunteer's main page.
Here are a few links to more information on alligators. There's a LOT of it out there.
Adam Britton's Pages 1
Adam Britton's Pages 2
Fish and Wildlife Page (Text)
Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species
Here are my "alligator behavior" pages:
|SOCIAL INTERACTION||CONFLICT AND CANNIBALISM||FEEDING||BABY ALLIGATORS||ALLIGATOR DENS||ALLIGATORS ON LAND||FOSSIL CROCS|
|SIGNALS 1||CONFLICT 1||FEEDING 1||BABIES 1||DENS 1||ON LAND 1||FOSSILS 1|
|SIGNALS 2||CONFLICT 2||FEEDING 2||BABIES 2||ON LAND 2|
|SIGNALS 3||CONFLICT 3||FEEDING 3||BABIES 3||ON LAND 3|
|SIGNALS 4||FEEDING 4||BABIES 4||ON LAND 4|
|SIGNALS 5||FEEDING 5||BABIES 5||ON LAND 5|
|SIGNALS 6||FEEDING 6||BABIES 6||ON LAND 6|
|SIGNALS 7||ON LAND 7|
And, this page shows alligators at the park, on land, near various landmarks at the park.
Go back to my main alligator page, Alligators
Go back to my home page, Welcome
Go back to the RICKUBISCAM page.
Go back to the See the World page.