media captionProf man Hutchinson defines how rhinos in ~ Colchester Zoo have actually been trained to walk across a hi-tech track
Rhinos are among the most heavy land animals but one point puzzles scientists: just how do they carry this load on your stumpy little feet?

Rhinos at Colchester Zoo have actually been trained come walk across a hi-tech track that is packed full of sensors.

This will enable the researcher to measure up the pressure and forces in the rhinos' feet come reveal just how the weight is distributed.

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Prof man Hutchinson, native the RVC's structure and also motion laboratory, said: \"Rhino feet room a little bit of a secret to us.

\"There is a little bit known about their anatomy and also their health, however nothing the is known around the mechanics of your feet, the physics, the physiology, the thorough anatomy or the behaviour of exactly how they usage their feet.\"

To find out more, the researchers went to Colchester Zoo, where the rhinos have been trained by their keepers.

The pets are provided a signal - a gentle touch ~ above the horn through a pole - climate the idea is the they walk with a small, narrow enclosure, which has been fitted through the press track.

The scientists are in search of the rhinos come step straight onto the center of each pad together they to walk through.


image captionA rhino's foot is surprisingly small given the large amount of weight it has to support

Prof Hutchinson said: \"The pressure pads measure the amount of pressure per unit area that the rhinos space placing on individual regions of their feet in ~ a high resolution.\"

Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou, that is also working ~ above the study, is interested in looking in ~ the differences in between how elephants and rhinos carry their weight.

Elephants have 5 toes that point forwards, offering them a tip-toed stance, and a recently discovered sixth the points in the direction of their heel, and also a squishy pad at the back. Rhinos have actually three rigid toes, through a more evenly spread pad across their feet.

Dr Panagiotopoulou said: \"Our preliminary results show that there is a difference in the circulation of weight between an elephant and also a rhino's foot.

\"Elephants generate the greatest pressure ~ above the outside part of the feet, vice versa, rhinos have the highest pressures on the within part.

\"The following step is to try to view if over there are any anatomical differences or differences in the loco-mechanics come account for this.\"

The team is specifically interested in detect out an ext about rhinos because pets in bondage frequently endure with difficulties with your feet. Prefer cattle, your feet have the right to be trimmed to relieve press - but not discovering where the highest possible pressures are generated makes this a process of trial and error.

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The RVC team likewise said that learning about how rhinos bring their bulk could also lead to interesting applications in the future.

Prof Hutchinson explained: \"From knowledge the feet of rhinos, as an instance of a large land mammal, we could draw inspiration and understand just how to construct devices that deserve to handle heavy loads and also carry them approximately while moving.\"