Small, light, and quick, the cheetah-cub robot is a robust little experiment in robotics and biomechanics from EPFL, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, one of two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology. From actu.epfl.ch:
Even though it doesn’t have a head, you can still tell what kind of animal it is: the robot is definitely modeled upon a cat… The purpose of the platform is to encourage research in biomechanics; its particularity is the design of its legs, which make it very fast and stable…
The number of segments – three on each leg – and their proportions are the same as they are on a cat. Springs are used to reproduce tendons, and actuators – small motors that convert energy into movement – are used to replace the muscles.
In the future, the stability and speed of this robot could be key attributes for finding people in search and rescue missions or for exploration of rough terrain.
Cheetahs are the fastest runners on the planet. Combining the resources of National Geographic and the Cincinnati Zoo, and drawing on the skills of an incredible crew, we documented these amazing cats in a way that’s never been done before.
Using a Phantom camera filming at 1200 frames per second while zooming beside a sprinting cheetah, the team captured every nuance of the cat’s movement as it reached top speeds of 60+ miles per hour.
The extraordinary footage that follows is a compilation of multiple runs by five cheetahs during three days of filming.
Two (of many) mesmerizing things about this video: the steadiness of the cheetahs’ heads and the amount of time their back legs seem to not touch the ground.
More about how the cheetah’s speed has ”achieved nature’s optimal balance of size, running ability and weight” at It’s Okay to Be Smart.
There are two dromedary camels that live in Arizona that are now internet famous: their names are Nessie and Baby. You can tell that they are Dromedary or Arabian camels because they have only one hump (vs two. And, despite cartoon lore, they do not store water in it, but they do drink a lot of water.)
Yabbra is one of just two koalas in the UK. He lives at the Edinburgh Zoo and we’ve watched him trot down this hall many, many times this week! A few koala facts:
Koalas and most other marsupials live in Australia and neighboring islands. The only marsupial native to North America is the Virginia opossum.
The word koala may come from an Aboriginal word meaning no drink. Although koalas do drink when necessary, they obtain most of the moisture they need from leaves.
Koalas have thick woolly fur that protects them from both heat and cold. It also acts like a raincoat. People used to hunt koalas for their fur. Now strict laws protect them from hunters, but their habitat is not protected, and it is disappearing as land is developed. More than four-fifths of original koala habitat has been destroyed. People are trying to save what is left.
Newborn koalas—called joeys—continue to develop in their mothers’ pouches… There it stays, safely tucked away, growing and developing for about seven months.
Koalas spend as many as 18 hours a day napping and resting.
Koalas smell like cough drops because of their diet of eucalyptus leaves.
Though koalas look like teddy bears and are sometimes even referred to as koala bears, they are not bears.
Fossils of 12 different extinct species of koala have been found. These extinct koalas were much larger than the ones today. They were like giant koalas!