When we say the word gallop, changes are that you think of horses. Makes sense. These mammals are awfully good at it.
But a gallop is simply a running gait (or motion) where all four legs leave the ground at some point while each landing at different times. Though horses are the most well known for this ability, tons of animals can do it. Tigers, dogs, deer, giraffes, some crocodiles...
Whoa, hold on there. Galloping crocodiles? They can GALLOP?
It's true. And while scientists have known this for a while now, a new study from the Royal Veterinary College in England confirms that many more croc species can do it than originally thought. And even their relatives that can't move surprisingly fast.
On the move
Here's what the scientists behind the study did. They got 42 individual animals spanning 15 different species of crocodilya. This family includes true crocodiles, alligators, and caimans. Then they coaxed them to run along a track as fast as they could, filming them as they moved.
What did they find?
Well, some of the animals just stood their ground and hissed instead of running! (Whatever you say, alligator!)
But those that did get a move on? Eight species of crocodile could either gallop at their top speed or bound. Bounding is another top speed gait where the animal pushes off with both hind legs, then lands on the forelegs. Over and over and over...Wheee!
Even better? Five of the species in the study had never before been recorded galloping or bounding.
I will just hiss at you
Meanwhile, the alligators and caiman did not seem capable of using either a gallop or a bound. When they weren't hissing, they could reach a trot (which is like a jog to a horse).
Weirdly though, whether it was a gallop, a bound, or a trot, the top speeds were all about the same — around 18 kph (11 mph).
In other words, if you were thinking of testing out a crocodile' or alligator's speed, we would strongly advise against it!