Life Lines

Chick Locomotion

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Chicks hatch from their eggs with the ability to walk and swim. After only 3 days in the egg, chicks begin to move. Researchers wanted to know if the movements in the egg prepared chicks for their big debut. They synchronized electromyograms for leg muscles, force, and video from late-stage embryos on days 15, 18 and 20 of their incubation. What they discovered was that the repetitive movements of the embryonic chicks were related to locomotion. These findings support the idea that chicks do in fact practice moving while still in the egg!

Click here to watch a fun video of a chick hatching.

Source:
Ryu YU, Bradley NS (2009) Precocious Locomotor Behavior Begins in the Egg: Development of Leg Muscle Patterns for Stepping in the Chick. PLoS ONE 4(7): e6111. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006111

Comments

  1. #1 Barb
    August 11, 2011

    Is there similar evidence about fetal movement as practice for neonatal movement in other precocious animals (like Guinea pigs)? Do Guinea pig fetuses move significantly more near term than mouse fetuses?

  2. #2 Dr. Dolittle
    August 11, 2011

    That doesn’t appear to be the case. Studies of fetal guinea pigs show similar patterns to humans in that movement slows down as the animals get closer to parturition.
    van Kan CM, de Vries JI, Lüchinger AB, Mulder EJ, Taverne MA. Ontogeny of fetal movements in the guinea pig. Physiology and Behavior, Volume: 98 (2009), pp. 338-344.