When these mountain goats made a leap across a deep ravine, we bet they didn’t realize that it would be watched more than seven million times! This footage creates a mesmerizing silhouette of several goats crossing from one rocky cliff to another. They do it with grace and elegance and you just want to watch it over and over again.
The Elegance of Mountain Goats
It looks as if this footage was shot at dusk or dawn, the light is low and the cliffs and goats appear as dark silhouettes. The scene is very atmospheric and peaceful. We see the goats in single file approaching the ravine and then, with very little hesitation, one makes a leap. This looks like an adult goat and if you freeze the video mid-jump it is fascinating to see how the goat makes it across. They take a short run-up and then angle their body at 45 degrees to the vertical as they leap into the air. They maintain this angle until just before they land when their body becomes horizontal again.
Incredibly, the goats are able to land on an almost vertical cliff by lowering their front feet first and bending at the knee so that the back feet quickly hit the rocks too. Then, they use the momentum of the leap to propel themselves up the steep cliff and onto flatter ground.
One goat after another makes the leap in exactly the same way. One stops suddenly and has a good look at the sheer drop before backing up and then starting their run-up. Perhaps they were gauging how much of a run-up they needed? Then, a couple manage it without any run-up at all! They clearly have perfected a different technique.
The most nerve-wracking moments are when the baby goats have a go as the ravine seems impossibly wide for them. Yet, they manage to propel their little bodies over a remarkable distance!
Mountain Goat Adaptions
Even though mountain goats look quite like domestic goats, they are actually more closely related to mountain gazelles, cattle, and antelopes. Their bodies are highly adapted for life on mountains and this allows them to escape predators and to reach sources of food (plants) that other animals cannot reach. They learn how to navigate steep rocks and ravines from the day that they are born.
Mountain goats have a split in their hooves giving two toes that can move independently. Also, their hooves are made up of a hard, outer layer with a soft pad in the center – this makes them act like a suction pad. As we can see – these adaptions are highly effective!
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