Limb bone scaling in hopping diprotodonts and quadrupedal artiodactyls

Doube, M and Felder, A A and Chua, M Y and Lodhia, K and Klosowski, M M and Hutchinson, J R and Shefelbine, S J (2018) Limb bone scaling in hopping diprotodonts and quadrupedal artiodactyls. bioRxiv. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Bone adaptation is modulated by the timing, direction, rate, and magnitude of mechanical loads. To investigate whether frequent slow, or infrequent fast, gaits could dominate bone adaptation to load, we compared scaling of the limb bones from two mammalian herbivore clades that use radically different high-speed gaits, bipedal hopping and quadrupedal galloping. Forelimb and hindlimb bones were collected from 20 artiodactyl and 15 diprotodont species (body mass M 1.05 - 1536 kg) and scanned in clinical computed tomography or X-ray microtomography. Second moment of area (Imax) and bone length (l) were measured. Scaling relations (y = axb) were calculated for l vs M for each bone and for Imax vs M and Imax vs l for every 5% of length. Imax vs M scaling relationships were broadly similar between clades despite the diprotodont forelimb being nearly unloaded, and the hindlimb highly loaded, during bipedal hopping. Imax vs l and l vs M scaling were related to locomotor and behavioural specialisations. Low-intensity loads may be sufficient to maintain bone mass across a wide range of species. Occasional high-intensity gaits might not break through the load sensitivity saturation engendered by frequent low-intensity gaits.

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