Supplementary material from "Metatarsal fusion resisted bending as jerboas (Dipodidae) transitioned from quadrupedal to bipedal"

Posted on 19.09.2022 - 05:38
Hind limbs undergo dramatic changes in loading conditions during the transition from quadrupedal to bipedal locomotion. For example, the most early diverging bipedal jerboas (Rodentia: Dipodidae) are some of the smallest mammals in the world, with body masses that range 2–4 g. The larger jerboa species exhibit developmental and evolutionary fusion of the central three metatarsals into a single cannon bone. We hypothesize that small body size and metatarsal fusion are mechanisms to maintain the safety factor of the hind limb bones despite the higher ground reaction forces associated with bipedal locomotion. Using finite-element analysis to model collisions between the substrate and the metatarsals, we found that body size reduction was insufficient to reduce bone stress on unfused metatarsals, based on the scaled dynamics of larger jerboas, and that fused bones developed lower stresses than unfused bones when all metatarsals are scaled to the same size and loading conditions. Based on these results, we conclude that fusion reinforces larger jerboa metatarsals against high ground reaction forces. Because smaller jerboas with unfused metatarsals develop higher peak stresses in response to loading conditions scaled from larger jerboas, we hypothesize that smaller jerboas use alternative dynamics of bipedal locomotion to reduce the impact of collisions between the foot and substrate.


Villacís Núñez, Carla Nathaly; Ray, Andrew P.; Cooper, Kimberly L.; Moore, Talia Y. (2022): Supplementary material from "Metatarsal fusion resisted bending as jerboas (Dipodidae) transitioned from quadrupedal to bipedal". The Royal Society. Collection.
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Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


Carla Nathaly Villacís Núñez
Andrew P. Ray
Kimberly L. Cooper
Talia Y. Moore
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