Gaits and other aspects of locomotion in hippotragin bovids

Estes (1991), on page 116, states the following about postures and locomotion in tribe Hippotragini of family Bovidae:

"The oryxes and addax walk in an amble, as expected. Sables and roans are more variable, cross-walking when going slow and changing to an amble at a quicker walk. Oryxes nod their heads like topis when walking fast, especially the scimitar-horned oryx...The addax throws its wide-hoofed feet slightly sideways to avoid brushing against the opposite limb, but places one foot behind the other, leaving a single line of tracks. The trot is not a regular gait in this tribe but may appear as a transition between walk and gallop, and a style-trot is performed in situations of excitement or alarm. Oryxes have a particularly beautiful flowing trot with a suspension stage during which all feet are off the ground and the head is turned synchronously from side to side...Trotting scimitar-horned oryxes hold their chins raised with horns back...The gallop differs considerably among species. The sable and roan bound higher and flex their legs more than the rest, whereas the addax has a flat gallop with minimal flexing, appearing stiff-kneed. It and the Arabian oryx are considered to be the slowest and clumsiest runners in the tribe, perhaps reflecting their adaptations to sandy substrates. Both have great endurance when traveling on sand...Oryx gazella is probably the fastest and most enduring horse antelope, though less fleet than gazelles or topis. When running at full gallop, the chin is held out so that the horns lie back in line with the neck."

The purpose of this Post is to illustrate as many of these points as possible.


There are many photos on the Web of hippotragins walking. This is particularly true for Hippotragus.

So far, I have found no evidence of any walking gait other than an amble.

In the following photos, the amble is diagnosed by the facts that either

  • the fore hoof lifts before the hind hoof on the same side has landed, or
  • the hind hoof lifts only after the opposite fore hoof has landed.

The action is clearly shown in

Oryx dammah

Oryx leucoryx

Hippotragus niger:


Hippotragus equinus:

Addax nasomaculatus:

scroll in

Oryx callotis

Oryx beisa




Oryx leucoryx

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I have yet to find any footage showing the particular actions mentioned by Estes w.r.t. trotting in Oryx.

I am surprised at the sheer number of photos on the Web that happen to show exactly the right moment, in the stride-cycle, for a diagnosis of the amble. This is extreme in the case of H. equinus (29 photos, above).

I suspect that this is not merely coincidence, but rather a consequence - in part - of selection by photographers of the most 'symmetrical' among a sequence of photos all taken within a few seconds.

Publicado el octubre 4, 2023 10:57 MAÑANA por milewski milewski


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