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For anyone who has seen Disney's The Jungle Book, it comes as no surprise that elephants move not like a front or rear wheel drive but like a 4x4, with all legs capable of pushing or braking. The only question is whether they can cross their legs at the same time, as they do in the film.

That's unlikely, according to the latest research, revealing that this noble beast moves as a Land Rover not a Mercedes-Benz. Most four-legged animals, your see, accelerate using their back legs and halt using their forelegs – as everybody who has a dog that meets an angry cat knows. Not your elephant, that biggest of all land mammals left to us on earth. He (or she) can manage drive on all their legs. When they want to accelerate they can use two or three legs in any order.

That doesn't make them comparable to a 4x4, of course. Those never slow down, let alone stop, particularly when there's a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights in sight.

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