I fairly recently learned the term digitigrade, to describe the anatomy of a creature that stands on its toes rather than on the flat of its foot, like cats and birds.

I'm trying to narrow that down a little more now. Some animals like a cat or dog (or us), the toes are fairly static as they walk. Contrast that to the toes of a bird where on the upstep the toes... pull together, for lack of a better description, and spread apart as they step down on the foot, as shown in this video.

What is the proper term used to describe that motion and style of walking, or that type of functional foot, where the toes pull together and then spread apart as the foot goes up and down?

  • $\begingroup$ I think the digits of cats and dogs also spread a bit but since the digits are close together you cannot discern the spread as you can do in the case of birds. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 3 '16 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG - yeah, being digitigrade also, I'm sure they do. Like you said, being much shorter toes, it's just not that noticeable. Hence the addition of fairly static. ;) $\endgroup$ – eidylon Feb 3 '16 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Another difference is that in cats and dogs, the dew claw doesn't play any part in walking at all, while in most birds, that back toe/claw is heavily involved in their walking and standing. $\endgroup$ – eidylon Feb 3 '16 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking about it more, cat toes I think are also more in a row like ours, so might not do it as much, where are most bird toes are arranged more radially. $\endgroup$ – eidylon Feb 4 '16 at 20:13

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