Biomechanics of mammalian feet during locomotion: an integrative 3D analysis

Olga Panagiotopoulou, Jeffery W. Rankin, Stephen Gatesy, John R. Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


Foot anatomy and mechanics vary among herbivorous quadrupeds. Horses have one toe ending in a rigid hoof, which is effective for fast-running but generates large impact vibrations. The feet of the elephants and rhinoceroses have five and three toes, respectively, bound within a digital cushion, which absorbs locomotor forces, yet is heavy and thus costly to swing. But how do less extreme foot morphologies, such as those found in even-toed ungulates influence foot mechanics? We developed a novel approach for this study that integrates 3D kinematic data from biplanar radiography (XROMM), inverse dynamics and finite element analysis to test the hypothesis that bone stresses during walking remain relatively constant among animals of different body mass. Foot designs and joint kinematics may act as a compensatory mechanism to maintain bone stresses at optimal levels. We provide comparative results from five species of hoofed mammals, ranging from pigs to elephants, to infer how body size and foot anatomy relate to foot mechanics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number342.5
Number of pages1
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue number1-supplement
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

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