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Keywords:

  • Biomechanics;
  • Small mammals;
  • Diaphyses;
  • Imaging techniques

Abstract

Because of their biomechanical significance, cross-sectional geometric properties of long bone diaphyses (areas, second moments of area) have been increasingly used in a number of form/function studies, e.g., to reconstruct body mass or locomotor mode in fossil primates or to elucidate allometric scaling relationships among extant taxa. In the present study, we test whether these biomechanical section properties can be adequately estimated using biplanar radiographs, as compared to calculations of the same properties from computer digitization of cross-sectional images. We are particularly interested in smaller animals, since the limb bone cortices of these animals may not be resolvable using other alternative noninvasive techniques (computed tomography). The test sample includes limb bones of small (25–5,000 g) relatively generalized quadrupedal mammals—mice, six species of squirrels, and Macaca fascicularis. Results indicate that biplanar radiographs are reasonable substitutes for digitized cross-sectional images for deriving areas and second moments of area of midshaft femora and humeri of mammals in this size range. Potential application to a variety of questions relating to mechanical loading patterns in such animals is diverse. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.