Navigation Links
Groovy giraffes…distinct bone structures keep these animals upright

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
Society for Experimental Biology

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:
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has entered into ... and Harvard for use of its ArxLab cloud-based ... tools. The partnership will support the institute,s efforts ... chemical research information internally and with external collaborators. ... for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy ... and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," ... Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises ... to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Imagine Exhibitions and Universal Partnerships & Licensing ... March 2016 at Melbourne Museum in Melbourne, Australia. Immediately following the Australia premiere, ... dates. The Exhibition is based on Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World, one of the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 30, 2015 ... today that the company has acquired Cypher Genomics, Inc., ... and robust human genomic interpretation software solutions. The ... who will join HLI including Cypher CEO and Co-founder, ... head of HLI,s Pediatric Business.  Financial details of the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 30, 2015  HUYA Bioscience ... China,s pharmaceutical innovations, today announced it ... Drug Development Fund (KDDF) to foster collaboration between KDDF ... development and commercialization of healthcare products for the global ... as an important source of new innovative preclinical and ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Ill. , Nov. 30, 2015  AbbVie, is ... program that focuses on a daily routine for managing ... take their medication can affect the way the body ... follow to their a daily routine are important. The ... to help patients better manage their hypothyroidism by establishing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: