ology logo
card
309

Thomson's gazelle

OLogy Series
animal
card
309

Thomson's gazelle

OLogy Series
animal

On the dry grasslands of eastern Africa, the Thomson's gazelle grazes in the tall grass. Suddenly, it hears a noise and raises it head. The gazelle is completely still until it notices a lion. In a flash, it bounds into the air and is off and running. The lion charges after it, but the slim, graceful gazelle is too fast and outruns the fierce predator.

Gazelles are exceptional runners. How are their legs adapted to help them run quickly and efficiently?

they're light

they're strong

both of these

Are you right?

Correct!

Gazelles have delicate but sturdy legs. Their legs are light because they only have muscles at the top. Their strong hind limbs and rump muscles help propel the gazelle forward when it runs.

A gazelle can jump straight up into the air from a standstill, lifting all four legs at the same time. This is called:

galloping

stotting

trotting

Are you right?

Correct!

Gazelles stott to show off how fit they are and discourage predators from chasing them. Gazelles also stott when they play.

To run faster, gazelles take:

longer strides

more frequent strides

shorter strides

Are you right?

Correct!

Many other fast mammals take more frequent strides to pick up speed. But gazelles take longer strides.

Gazelles run on their tiptoes.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Gazelles, like many of their relatives, evolved to run on tiptoes rather than flat feet. In fact, their hooves are modified toenails!

Gazelles can run very fast, but only for short distances.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

In fact, gazelles can run at high speeds for a long time. This helps them outrun many predators.

Scientific Name: Eudorcas thomsoni
Habitat: dry grasslands of eastern Africa
Diet: mostly grasses
Size: up to 3 feet (1 meter) tall at the shoulder
Conservation Status: near threatened
Cool Fact: The Thomson's gazelle can run up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour!

Image credits: courtesy of E.A.Drablos.