“Parkour enthusiasts need look no further than up in the trees for inspiration. Squirrels’ aerial acrobatics make the rodents masters of the form, a new study suggests.

A detailed look at how squirrels navigate narrow branches that bend and sway with the wind — where the smallest error could spell death — shows that the rodents make split-second calculations to balance trade-offs between branch bendiness and the distance between tree limbs. And for particularly tricky jumps, squirrels improvise parkour-style moves in midair to stick the landing, researchers report in the Aug. 6 Science.

This study is ‘a great example of how cool ‘normal’ animals can be in their biomechanics,’ says Michelle Graham, a graduate student in biomechanics at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg who was not involved with the research. ‘We’ve all seen squirrels do crazy stuff in nature, but no one ever pays any attention to it.’

As someone who studied biomechanics…I do! 🙂

More on Squirrels use parkour tricks when leaping from branch to branch via ScienceNews.

How does the study of biomechanics apply to human health? Read more on Preventive Biomechanics: A Paradigm Shift with a Translational Approach to Biomechanics via Am J Sports Med.

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