The answer is that yes, most animals can move backwards, although it depends on the animal; some animals, like the kangaroo, can’t move backwards at all! Among the animals who can walk or move backwards, some of them (like sheep) will do it if they feel threatened by something in front of them, since moving in reverse allows them to still see whatever it is that seems dangerous and look out for themselves! Other animals, like many kinds of fish, are able to move backwards but don’t do it very often.
Believe it or not, the animals most likely to move backwards just might be bugs and birds! The hummingbird is known for being the only bird who can fly in reverse, and the stick bug is a great example of an animal who walks both forward and back, as he crawls up and down branches!
ExplorationWalk it off!
Why do you think most animals rarely walk backwards, even though they can? Do you think maybe it has to do with instincts about being able to defend themselves? Why might walking backwards be a little dangerous for an animal who was trying to protect him or herself??
Why might it be beneficial to some animals to be able to move backwards when they want to? Why do you think some creatures might be more likely to do this than others??
Sources & links
“Kangaroo and Wallaby.” Animal Bytes. The San Diego Zoo. 23 Oct. 2010 Zill, Sasha N. “Invertebrate Neurobiology: Sensory Processing in Reverse for Backward Walking.” Current Biology. 19 Jun. 2007. Cell Symposia. 23 Oct. 2010 “Help Save the Sheep!” PETA Kids. 23 Oct. 2010 “Can fish swim backwards?” Fish FAQ. Woods Hole Science Aquarium ”“ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Science Administration. 23 Oct. 2010. Wang, Jane. “Hummingbirds tread air in flight.” Ask A Scientist! 22 Mar. 2000. Cornell Center for Materials Research. 23 Oct. 2010