Why cross-walking gaits seem unrecognisably different in ruminants and like-size terrestrial monkeys

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Please also see the following


A cross-walk is a diagonal walking gait, in which left fore tends to move together with right hind, and right fore tends to move together with left hind.

Among ungulates, a 'perfect' example is Hippopotamus amphibius (https://www.pond5.com/stock-footage/item/56467947-hippo-walking-isolated-hippopotamus-video-includes-alpha-cha).

Cross-walking occurs in certain small (body mass less than 35 kilograms) ruminants. More particularly, I refer to cover-dependent, nocturnal, solitary species with inconspicuous colouration (https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/milewski/91630-walking-gaits-in-cervidae-deer-tend-to-cross-walk-as-opposed-to-the-ambling-typical-of-many-bovids-part-2-odocoileinae#).

However, a naturalist can observe these ruminants attentively without noticing that the gait is a cross-walk.

Furthermore, baboons (Papio spp.), macaques (Macaca spp.), and the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) - all of which habitually cross-walk on the ground - seem to have yet another different action (https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/proboscis-monkey-walking-through-mangrove-royalty-free-image/527127928?phrase=proboscis+monkey&adppopup=true and https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/proboscis-monkey-walking-through-mangrove-swamp-royalty-free-image/114995835?phrase=proboscis+monkey&adppopup=true).

However, here again, the gait is a cross-walk.

So, how can these disparate impressions be reconciled?


A problem in studying gaits is confusion of terms.

What I call a cross-walk is alternatively called a 'walking trot' or 'diagonal-sequence walk' (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajpa.1330260203#:~:text=Diagonal%2Dsequence%20gaits%20have%20the,opposite%20side%20of%20the%20body).

'Diagonal-couplets gaits' (see the reference above) include both a running gait (trot) and a walking gait (which I call a cross-walk).

What I call an amble is alternatively called a 'walking pace' or 'lateral-sequence walk'. In my terminology, just as a trot is the running version of a cross-walk, so a pace is the running version of an amble.

I have invented the term 'semi cross-walk' because


The aim of this Post is to explain why the walking gaits seem so different in ruminants and monkeys that it took me decades to realise that both kinds of mammals cross-walk.


Please compare

Which reader would have known that all of these photos illustrate cross-walking?

There are six main reasons why cross-walking in ruminants and monkeys seems to consist of categorically different gaits.

These are as follows.

In the ruminants,

Part of the reason why ruminants and monkeys deviate, in opposite directions, from the synchronous placement of the diagonally-opposite feet may be

In the ruminants in question, the rump is higher than the withers (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/83544190). This is part of a 'hunched' conformation in which - presumably to boost acceleration when predators pounce - the hind legs are longer and springier than the fore legs.

In the monkeys in question, the rump tends to be lower than the withers (https://es.123rf.com/photo_126109982_a-monkey-walking-in-the-street-on-the-sunny-day.html).

This is because

Both the ruminants and the monkeys deviate from Hippopotamus amphibius, in which fore and hind legs are similar in length (https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/rare-sighting-hippo-walking-out-water-60570064).


  • the proportionately long hind leg of the ruminants takes a long time to swing fully from lifting to placement, thus landing well after the diagonally-opposite fore leg, whereas
  • the proportionately short hind leg of the monkeys takes a short time to perform the analogous swing.

Finally, two relevant differences between the ruminants and the monkeys are that

  • in adults of the latter, cross-walking is categorically the only terrestrial walking gait; by contrast, most/all of the ruminants that cross-walk are capable of grading into a semi cross-walk when walking rapidly; and
  • when speeding up from walking to running, the former trot, whereas the latter immediately canter/gallop; indeed, no primate is known to trot.
Posted on April 02, 2024 02:27 AM by milewski milewski


Posted by milewski 4 months ago

The following shows that, in the cross-walk of monkeys, the fore and opposite hind foot lift at the same time (this does not occur in any ruminant):


Posted by milewski 4 months ago

In the following of Papio, the hind foot has been placed behind, not next to, the fore foot on the same side.

This is probably because the animal is walking slowly in https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/189107260.

In https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/188946435, it is possibly in accommodation of the infant.

Posted by milewski 4 months ago

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