The ostrich is the fastest bird on land. Lions and cheetahs are faster on short distances, but ostriches, antelopes and horses can run for a long time over long distances. The ostrich was chosen for this study because it is comparable to an adult human in terms of its body weight.
The movements of five people and five tame ostriches were studied while they were running 50 metres. Also the forces on the underground were determined.
The research showed that humans and ostriches perform the same amount of work to move their legs. The storage and release of energy in the tendons, however, showed a huge difference. With the energy stored in the tendons the ostrich can perform 83% more work than a human. Therefore the ostrich does not tire as quickly.
The paper was published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The results of this research are also relevant for the development of prosthetics and the development of robots.