"A quirk of nature has long baffled biologists: Why do animals push in directions that don't point toward their goal, like the side-to-side sashaying of a running lizard or cockroach? An engineer building a robot would likely avoid these movements because they seem wasteful. So why do animals behave this way?
A multi-institutional research team, led by Johns Hopkins engineers, says it has solved this puzzle. In an article published in the Nov. 4-8 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reported that these extra forces are not wasteful after all: They allow animals to increase both stability and maneuverability, a feat that is often described as impossible in engineering textbooks."