• finite element analysis;
  • femur;
  • trabecular bone;
  • biomechanics


Work on the interspecific and intraspecific variation of trabecular bone in the proximal femur of primates demonstrates important architectural variation between animals with different locomotor behaviors. This variation is thought to be related to the processes of bone adaptation whereby bone structure is optimized to the mechanical environment. Micromechanical finite element models were created for the proximal femur of the leaping Galago senegalensis and the climbing and quadrupedal Loris tardigradus by converting bone voxels from high-resolution X-ray computed tomography scans of the femoral head to eight-noded brick elements. The resulting models had approximately 1.8 million elements each. Loading conditions representing takeoff phase of a leap and more generalized load orientations were applied to the models, and the models were solved using the iterative “row-by-row” matrix-vector multiplication algorithm. The principal strain and Von Mises stress results for the leaping model were similar for both species at each load orientation. Similar hip joint reaction forces in the range of 4.9 × to 12 × body weight were calculated for both species under each loading condition, but the hip reaction values estimated for Loris were higher than predicted based on locomotor behavior. These results suggest that functional adaptation to hip joint loading may not fully explain the differences in femoral head trabecular bone structure in Galago and Loris. The finite element method represents a unique and useful tool for analyzing the functional adaptation of trabecular bone in a diversity of animals and for reconstructing locomotor behavior in extinct taxa. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.