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Study of 90 animals' thigh bones reveals how they can efficiently carry loads
Date:3/9/2011

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 deve
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Contact: Colin Smith
cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk
44-020-759-46712
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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