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A digitigrade is an animal that stands or walks on its digits, or toes. Digitigrades include walking cats, dogs, and most other mammals, except humans, bears, and a few others. They are generally faster and quieter than other types of animals.

While humans usually walk with the soles of their feet on the ground (plantigrade locomotion), digitigrade animals walk on their distal and intermediate phalanges. Digitigrade locomotion is responsible for the distinctive hooked shape of dog legs.

There are anatomical differences between a plantigrade and digitigrade limb. Digitigrade animals have relatively long carpals and tarsals, and the bones which would correspond to the human ankle are thus set much higher in the limb than in a human. This effectively lengthens the foot, so much so that a digitigrade animal's "hands" and "feet" are often thought to correspond only to what would be the bones of the human toe or finger.

Because so little surface area needs to get off the ground, and also because of the added length of the foot, digitigrade locomotion tends to be more swift.

Some humans, though very few, may walk on their toes. This habit is usually unnoticed until someone else points it out, since it is so natural to the person walking.

Examples of digitigrades

See also

References


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Digitigrade. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Paleontology Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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