There are a variety of factors that affect how mammals lie down, including the size of the animal, its length, its body shape and the type of digestive system it uses. Cows and other animals that chew their cud, like sheep and deer, don't lie down often and lie mainly on their sides so their digestion is not impaired.
From this, it was assumed that other mammals that digest food differently would lie on their sides. To study this, researchers from the University of Zurich, Drs. Pucora, Schiffmann and Clauss watched 253 mammals in more than 30,000 resting phases.
It was discovered that their assumptions were not quite correct. Body size influenced the animal's resting posture more than digestion type. Small animals with short legs rested mainly on their chests and large animals were more likely to lie completely on their sides, which is more comfortable for their legs.
Horses are the exception to this rule as they spend a lot of time resting standing up by fixing their kneecaps so they don't need to tense their muscles to remain upright. Elephants are the animals that lie on their sides the most. Red kangaroos are the only animal the researchers investigated that sometimes rest on its back.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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