An ancient Australian legend tells that, originally, kangaroos had four legs as today, but all four of the same length. Like cats, dogs or lions, they used all their legs at the same time to walk and to run.
It was like that for many years, until one day a hunter appeared on the plains where the kangaroo families lived. The man, whose skin was tanned by the sun, was armed with spears and scouted the terrain looking for animals to eat.
A kangaroo, resting under the shade of a tree, saw him appear in the undergrowth. Although he had never been in front of a human, his instinct told him that his intentions were not exactly good: his face was tight, he moved slowly trying not to make noise, he looked stealthily from side to side, and he carried the deadly spear high, ready to attack the moment he saw an animal he could catch.
The kangaroo went on alert. He was very close and his only option was to escape as soon as possible. Deep down, he thought it would be easy. The man had two legs and he had four, so there was no doubt that he would run much faster! He got up from the ground and at three, he ran at full speed. The human heard a noise and discovered the animal putting its feet in dust. Without hesitation, she began to pursue him.
The kangaroo ran and ran without stopping, but the man was on his heels. Yes, he had four legs, but his enemy’s two legs were longer and more muscular. Things were getting tough!
The chase lasted at least two hours and the kangaroo couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily, night fell on the plain and, in a distraction from his stalker, he managed to camouflage himself among some bushes. There he stood, motionless, waiting for the two-legged enemy to move away. But no … Instead of going home, he decided to gather some branches and light a bonfire to warm himself and wait there until dawn.
The poor kangaroo knew that he had to come out of his hiding place because as soon as the first rays of sunlight appeared, the hunter would resume his search and in the end, he would fall into their nets. He had learned that running had not helped him, so the best thing would be to try to run away slowly, without making noise. It occurred to him to raise his front legs and he walked away in absolute silence, walking on tiptoe with both legs behind.
When he was well away from danger, he realized that this way it had been very easy for him to sneak away. Hind leg walking was great, but what if he tried jumping? He tried and at first, every time he jumped, he would fall on his ass, but he knew it was a matter of practice and he determinedly managed to make his jumps big and precise.
It felt wonderful! From now on, he could escape from anyone who tried to harm him. No man, no matter how fast, could compare to a skilled jumping kangaroo like him.
He returned to the plain very happy and told the kangaroo families what he had discovered. Following his advice, everyone began to rehearse to achieve a perfect jumping mechanism.
The initiative was extremely successful! Gradually, kangaroos across Australia stopped using their front legs to walk. Over time, their bodies evolved and became shorter, while the rear ones became strong and elastic like springs.
Today, kangaroos have so perfected the jumping system that they are capable of traveling great distances at speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour. Incredible true?