Turns out kangaroos have a 'fifth leg'

A study published online Thursday says, when walking on all fours, kangaroos use their tails as a powerful fifth leg to help propel themselves forward. 

To come to this conclusion, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder studied five red kangaroos in a lab in Sydney, Australia, and measured the force their tails exerted on the ground. 

They found, while the roos were walking on all fours, their tails acted as a fifth leg of sorts, working harder to propel the marsupials forward than their front and hind legs combined. Talk about getting a leg up.

One of the study's authors said in a statement, "We went into this thinking the tail was primarily used like a strut, a balancing pole, or a one-legged milking stool. What we didn’t expect to find was how much power the tails of the kangaroos were producing. It was pretty darn surprising."

Scientists aren't aware of any other animals that use their tails like this.

The study's authors believe that the kangaroo's use of its tail as an extra leg evolved to make its trademark hop faster and more efficient. 

To find out what else a kangaroo's tail is good for, watch this Newsy video. 

Print this article Back to Top