Curvature reduces bending strains in the quokka femur

Kyle McCabe, Keith Henderson, Jess Pantinople, Hazel L. Richards, Nick Milne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This study explores how curvature in the quokka femur may help to reduce bending strain during locomotion. The quokka is a small wallaby, but the curvature of the femur and the muscles active during stance phase are similar to most quadrupedal mammals. Our hypothesis is that the action of hip extensor and ankle plantarflexor muscles during stance phase place cranial bending strains that act to reduce the caudal curvature of the femur. Knee extensors and biarticular muscles that span the femur longitudinally create caudal bending strains in the caudally curved (concave caudal side) bone. These opposing strains can balance each other and result in less strain on the bone. We test this idea by comparing the performance of a normally curved finite element model of the quokka femur to a digitally straightened version of the same bone. The normally curved model is indeed less strained than the straightened version. To further examine the relationship between curvature and the strains in the femoral models, we also tested an extra-curved and a reverse-curved version with the same loads. There appears to be a linear relationship between the curvature and the strains experienced by the models. These results demonstrate that longitudinal curvature in bones may be a manipulable mechanism whereby bone can induce a strain gradient to oppose strains induced by habitual loading.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere3100
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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