Navigation Links
Study of 90 animals' thigh bones reveals how they can efficiently carry loads

The structures inside animals' thigh bones that enable them to support huge loads whilst being relatively lightweight are revealed in research published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers say their work could lead to the development of new materials based on thigh bone geometry.

A team from Imperial College London and the Royal Veterinary College collected thigh bone samples from British museum collections and zoos, analysing specimens of the femur bone from 90 different species including the Asian elephant, Etruscan shrew, roadrunner, crocodile, emu, turkey, leopard and giraffe. They explored how animal size related to the formation of an interlinking lattice of tiny bone struts inside the femur called trabeculae. The researchers found that trabeculae, typically found near joints, have different geometry depending on the size of the species.

The researchers say their new understanding of how femur bones are structured could be used to advance a class of tough, light-weight structural materials, which could be used to improve bodywork for planes and cars.

Dr Michael Doube, lead author of the study from the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, who is also a veterinary surgeon, says:

"Scientists had not previously known that the structure of trabeculae varied, or scaled up, depending on the size of the animal. We assumed that trabeculae would be important in supporting the weight of larger creatures such as Asian elephants, which can weigh more than three tonnes. However, we were surprised to find that animals that have comparatively lighter loads, such as the Etruscan shrew, weighing three grams, also has trabeculae supporting its tiny body. Our study is helping us to see how the remarkable geometry of trabeculae supports loads in all creatures, no matter how big or small they are."

The scientists found that even though the overall amount of bone per unit volume stayed roughly the same in bigger animals and smaller animals, the trabeculae in bigger animals were thicker, further apart and less numerous.

The team suggest that the big trabecular struts inside the bones of larger animals help to support their heavier load without the need for thicker and denser bones. Using this structure saves valuable energy in larger animals because they do not have to grow, maintain and carry extra bone tissue around with them.

The scientists say new structural materials could be developed, which are inspired by geometry inside femurs. These materials would contain a lattice work of stiff foam that would be reinforced in certain areas, depending on the load being exerted on that particular section. This type of material could be used in car bodywork, only being reinforced in areas of the car where loads are heaviest. This could make cars lighter and more fuel efficient.

The team in the study used a technique called X-ray microtomography, which uses X-rays to create three dimensional images of the trabecular bone. This information was fed into a computer where the scientists created over 200 virtual computer models of the bones.

To analyse the bone structure of the 3-D femora models, the researchers also developed an open source computer program called BoneJ that examined different aspects of the trabeculae including the number of struts, their thickness and spacing. BoneJ has been downloaded more than 1500 times world-wide, with hits from over 250 institutes and organisations.

This research is part of ongoing work by the team who are also investigating how leg bones affect the gait and walking characteristics in different species. The information combined from both studies will be used by the team to understand the relationship between how animals walk and bone structure. This could lead to insights into a range of fields including understanding in more detail how bone deformities develop in animals and humans and deducing the movement patterns of ancient species in the field of palaeontology.


Contact: Colin Smith
Imperial College London

Related biology technology :

1. Clean fuel worsens climate impacts for some vehicle engines: UBC study
2. WARFARIN Study Launched at WellStar Health System to Assess Impact of Genetic Testing in Reducing Hospitalizations and Deaths Caused by Warfarin
3. WARFARIN Study Launched at Overlake Hospital Medical Center to Assess Impact of Genetic Testing in Reducing Hospitalizations and Deaths Caused by Warfarin
4. Pivotal Study Validates Roches cobas® HPV Test with HPV-16 and 18 Genotyping for Identifying Women at Highest Risk for Cervical Cancer
5. Georgia Health Sciences University Clinical Study Shows RyMed InVision-Plus® IV Connector Significantly Decreased Central Venous Catheter Occlusions in Oncology Patients
6. Amicus Therapeutics Provides Positive Data Update from Phase 2 Long-Term Extension Study of Amigal™ for Fabry Disease
7. Study Confirms Third Trimester Amniotic Fluid a Reliable Source of Stem Cells for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Banking
8. Novartis Drug Afinitor® Extends Progression-Free Survival in Patients With Advanced Pancreatic NET, Study Published in NEJM Shows
9. New test to study proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases
10. A new model for studying Parkinsons
11. Cephalon Announces Positive Topline Results From a Phase IV Study of NUVIGIL in Shift Work Disorder
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality ... 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the development ... laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential ... for many early stage organizations - access to laboratory ... Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016 Cell Applications, Inc. ... them to produce up to one billion human ... within one week. These high-quality, consistent stem cells ... cells and spend more time doing meaningful, relevant ... proprietary, high-volume manufacturing process that produces affordable, reliable ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016  According to Kalorama Information, the dominant ... market include significant efforts in automation as well ... and affordable sequencers, say the healthcare market research ... including sample prep materials.  The healthcare market research ... for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) , highlights major ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/15/2016)... 15, 2016 Transparency Market ... Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry Analysis Size ... to the report, the  global gesture recognition market ... and is estimated to grow at a CAGR ... 2024.  Increasing application of gesture recognition ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... TURKU, Finland , June 9, 2016 ... French National Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure ... France during the major tournament ... and data communications systems and services, announced today that its ... Police Prefecture to back up public safety across ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... LONDON , June 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Transport Management) von Nepal ... ,Angebot und Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich ... weltweit führend in der Produktion und Implementierung ... an der Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):