Why are kangaroos such expert jumpers?

In a huge country such as Australia, the ability to cross vast distances in search of food and water is key to survival. One such animal that can traverse barren lands at high speed for hours is the kangaroo.

Capable of a single eight-metre (25-foot) bound across level ground, the red kangaroo is one of the world’s greatest long jumpers. Thanks to large feet and strong legs, it can also travel at over 50 kilometres (30 miles) per hour. While a the creature’s hind legs are big and powerful, they can’t work independently of each other and so kangaroos have to hop on two feet.

To help their swift bounce, kangaroos use their tails as a counterbalance. When the back legs are fully outstretched behind the main body, the tail assumes the downward position, then when the legs are pushing forwards the tail moves up higher into the air.

Image credit: Chris Samuel