Cross-sectional geometric properties of the crocodylian humerus: an exception to Wolff's Law?


  • Mason B. Meers

    Corresponding author
    1. Functional Anatomy and Evolution Program, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, U.S.A.
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*All correspondence to: M. B. Meers, Department of Biology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606-1490, U.S.A. E-mail:


The cross-sectional geometric properties of the crocodylian humerus were examined in order to assess the effects of differential locomotor behaviour and habitat use on osteological properties. Several biomechanical properties of the humerus were calculated, including resistance to compression and tension, bending and torsion resistance. The biomechanical properties of the crocodylian humerus reflect little variation attributable to locomotor behaviour or natural habitat use (terrestrial vs aquatic habitat). However, the biomechanical properties of captive individuals differed from those of wild conspecifics. The results of this research suggest that crocodylian humeri maintain sufficient resistance to all loading conditions throughout life with little remodelling, though both resorption and remodelling of bone are known to occur. Consequently, crocodylian humeri do not respond to stresses incurred during life as predicted by Wolff's Law.