Six-legged pedestrians, cockroaches, use a running gait during locomotion. The gait was defined by measuring ground reaction forces and mechanical energy fluctuations of the center of mass in Blaberus discoidalis (Serville) as they travelled over a miniature force platform. These six-legged animals produce horizontal and vertical ground-reaction patterns of force similar to those found in two-, four- and eight-legged runners. Lateral forces were less than half the vertical force fluctuations. At speeds between 0.08 and 0.66 ms-1, horizontal kinetic and gravitational potential energy changes were in phase. This pattern of energy fluctuation characterizes the bouncing gaits used by other animals that run. Blaberus discoidalis attained a maximum sustainable stride frequency of 13 Hz at 0.35 ms-1, the same speed and frequency predicted for a mammal of the same mass. Despite differences in body form, the mass-specific energy used to move the center of mass a given distance (0.9 J kg-1m-1) was the same for cockroaches, ghost crabs, mammals, and birds. Similarities in force production, stride frequency and mechanical energy production during locomotion suggest that there may be common design constraints in terrestrial locomotion which scale with body mass and are relatively independent of body form, leg number and skeletal type.

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