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Updated: March 11, 2011 20:16 IST

Secret of kangaroo’s leaps unravelled

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Kangaroos can cover 25 feet in a single leap and are known to jump obstacles up to 10 feet high.
AP Kangaroos can cover 25 feet in a single leap and are known to jump obstacles up to 10 feet high.

Scientists using sophisticated infrared Hollywood technology have unravelled the secret behind kangaroo’s gravity defying leaps.

The technology was used in the movie “The Lord of the Rings”.

Kangaroos can cover 25 feet in a single leap and are known to jump obstacles up to 10 feet high.

Using “motion capture” film cameras, researchers have shed light on how Australia’s most famous indigenous species is able to bounce so effectively. The scientists discovered that a kangaroo’s tail acts as a “fifth limb” and as they move faster and start to hop, the tail acts as a counterweight to conserve energy.

The results have also led to the marsupial’s precise motion being plotted in incredible detail, the Telegraph reports.

The study, carried out at Australia’s Alma Park Zoo in Brisbane, fitted kangaroos with infrared light-reflective balls while they ran over plates that measured their precise motion.

The study team included scientists from the Royal Veterinary College in London, the University of Idaho, the University of Queensland and the University of Western Australia.

According to them, their study will provide answers to why, unlike other animals, the marsupials do not adopt a more upright posture as their body mass increases.

Alexis Wiktorowicz-Conroy from the Royal Veterinary College said preliminary findings appear to show kangaroos were more efficient in conserving energy.

“The kangaroos’ movement is really neat — at low speeds, they use their tail like a fifth limb, inching along like an inchworm,” she said.

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