A kinematic synergy for terrestrial locomotion shared by mammals and birds

Giovanna Catavitello, Yury Ivanenko, Francesco Lacquaniti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Locomotion of tetrapods on land adapted to different environments and needs resulting in a variety of different gait styles. However, comparative analyses reveal common principles of limb movement control. Here, we report that a kinematic synergy involving the planar covariation of limb segment motion holds in 54 different animal species (10 birds and 44 mammals), despite large differences in body size, mass (ranging from 30 g to 4 tonnes), limb configuration, and amplitude of movements. This kinematic synergy lies at the interface between the neural command signals output by locomotor pattern generators, the mechanics of the body center of mass and the external environment, and it may represent one neuromechanical principle conserved in evolution to save mechanical energy.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2018


  • biological motion laws
  • computational biology
  • intersegmental coordination
  • legged locomotion
  • mammals and birds
  • neuroscience
  • systems biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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