Morphometric and biomechanical characteristics of the limb skeleton organization of some vertebrates with different locomotion type and limb orientation

Y. O. Broshko, M. F. Kovtun


Some features of the relative changes in the structural and biomechanical properties of stylopodium and zeugopodium elements of limbs' skeleton of reptiles and mammals have been investigated. Morphological and functional adaptations of limbs' skeletal elements in representatives of different classes of terrestrial vertebrates are directly related to limbs orientation and features of locomotion type. This leads to the fact that stylopodium bones of reptiles and mammals are subjected to mechanical loads of different character.

The structural and biomechanical parameters of stylopodium and zeugopodium bones of reptiles’ and mammals’ limbs were investigated. There are bone mass, linear dimensions (length and shaft diameters – frontal and sagittal), parameters of shaft's cross-sectional geometry (cross-sectional area, second and polar moments of inertia, radiuses of inertia). Parameters of cross-sectional geometry allow to establishing a quantitative expression of bone resistance to the loads of certain character: pressure and tension (cross-sectional area), bending (second moments of inertia), torsion (polar moment of inertia).

It has been found that the parameters of stylopodium and zeugopodium bones of representatives of different classes have different character of allometric dependences on body mass. In all cases are noted positive allometry of bone mass and isometry of bone length to body mass. Most parameters of stylopodium elements of reptiles and zeugopodium elements of mammals have positive allometry to body mass. At the same time, the parameters of zeugopodium  bones of reptiles and stylopodium  bones of mammals are varies isometrically relative to body mass. All this testifies to the different character of the mechanical loads on the individual elements of the limbs' skeleton of representatives of different classes, which is associated with a different orientation of limbs (segmental in reptiles, parasagittal in mammals). From this, we can make the following conclusions. The main loads are imposed on stylopodium in reptiles and zeugopodium in mammals. There is a general trend of increasing of mechanical load on the zeugopodium skeleton when the vertebrates’ body mass are increasing. Also noted increase of the mechanical function of the radius compared with the ulna in vertebrates.


reptiles; mammals; limb skeleton; limbs orientation; structural and biomechanical parameters; allometry


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