Navigation Links
Groovy giraffes…distinct bone structures keep these animals upright
Date:7/3/2014

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College have identified a highly specialised ligament structure that is thought to prevent giraffes' legs from collapsing under the immense weight of these animals. "Giraffes are heavy animals (around 1000 kg), but have unusually skinny limb bones for an animal of this size" explained lead investigator Christ Basu, a PhD student in the Structure & Motion Lab. "This means their leg bones are under high levels of mechanical stress." In giraffes, the equivalents to our metatarsal bone (in the foot) and metacarpal bone (in the hand) are extremely elongated, accounting for roughly half the leg length. A distinct groove runs along the length of these bones, housing a structure called the suspensory ligament. This structure is found in other large animals, such as horses (which are well known for their ability to sleep whilst standing), but this is the first time that it has been studied in giraffes. The researchers hypothesised that this arrangement may help solve the mystery of how the giraffes' spindly legs can support its weight. To test this, the researchers received donations of limbs from EU zoos; these came from giraffes which had died naturally in captivity or been euthanized for reasons unrelated to this work. The limbs were then fixed in a rigid frame. Using a hydraulic press, the researchers applied forces of up to 2500 Newtons (about 250 kilograms), to simulate the bodyweight supported by each limb. It was found that the limbs remained upright and stable without any additional support and could even withstand greater loads. As the suspensory ligament is elastic tissue, and not muscle, it cannot generate force itself so can only offer passive support. This means that giraffes can support their weight without actively engaging as much muscle, thereby reducing fatigue. The suspensory ligament is also thought to prevent the foot joints from overextending and protect the feet from collapsing. Chris Basu hopes that this information will help to explain how giraffes evolved from small, antelope-like species to the iconic long-necked animals we know today. "I'd like to link modern giraffes with fossil specimens to illustrate the process of evolution" Mr Basu said. "We hypothesise that the suspensory ligament has allowed giraffes to reach large sizes that they otherwise would not have been able to achieve".


'/>"/>
Contact: Caroline Wood
cwood4@sheffield.ac.uk
44-7771-765335
Society for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Groovy turtles genes to aid in their rescue
2. Scientists find a groovy way to influence specialization of stem cells
3. Protein Data Bank: 100,000 structures
4. Nanostructures to facilitate the process to eliminate organic contaminants in water
5. How kids brain structures grow as memory develops
6. First look at how Staphylococcus cells adhere to nanostructures could help fight infections
7. Researchers build 3-D structures to test breast cancer treatments
8. FASEB announces 2014 Science Research Conference: Dynamic DNA Structures in Biology
9. FASEB announces 2014 SRC: Protein Interactions, Structures, Technologies & Networks
10. Understanding secondary light emission by plasmonic nanostructures may improve medical imaging
11. Developing methods for building precise nanostructures
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/24/2016)... Calif. , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by ... LMD3251MT  3D medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to the ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... YORK , May 16, 2016   EyeLock ... solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT Center ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded iris ... an unprecedented level of convenience and security with unmatched ... authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... , UAE, May 9, 2016 ... when it comes to expanding freedom for high net ... Even in today,s globally connected world, there is ... conferencing system could ever duplicate sealing your deal with ... obtaining second passports by taking advantage of citizenship via ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced positive ... its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials were ... studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics ... healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects were ... dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or repeated ...
Breaking Biology Technology: