Smart Biomechanical Adaptation Revealed by the Structure of Ostrich Limb Bones

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Abstract

Ostriches are known to be the fastest bipedal animal alive; to accomplish such an achievement, their anatomy evolved to sustain the stresses imposed by running at such velocities. Ostriches represent an excellent case study due to the fact that their locomotor kinematics have been extensively studied for their running capabilities. The shape and structure of ostrich bones are also known to be optimized to sustain the stresses imposed by the body mass and accelerations to which the bones are subjected during movements. This study focuses on the limb bones, investigating the structure of the bones as well as the material properties, and how both the structure and material evolved to maximise the performance while minimising the stresses applied to the bones themselves. The femoral shaft is hollowed and it presents an imbricate structure of fused bone ridges connected to the walls of the marrow cavity, while the tibial shaft is subdivided into regions having different mechanical characteristics. These adaptations indicate the optimization of both the structure and the material to bear the stresses. The regionalization of the material highlighted by the mechanical tests represents the capability of the bone to adapt to external stimuli during the life of an individual, optimizing not only the structure of the bone but the material itself.

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Number of pages16
JournalBiomimetics
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • biomimesis
  • material properties
  • mechanical performances
  • ostrich
  • structural adaptation

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