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Keywords:

  • biting;
  • finite element analysis;
  • multibody dynamics analysis;
  • skull

Abstract

Lizard skulls vary greatly in shape and construction, and radical changes in skull form during evolution have made this an intriguing subject of research. The mechanics of feeding have surely been affected by this change in skull form, but whether this is the driving force behind the change is the underlying question that we are aiming to address in a programme of research. Here we have implemented a combined finite element analysis (FEA) and multibody dynamics analysis (MDA) to assess skull biomechanics during biting. A skull of Uromastyx hardwickii was assessed in the present study, where loading data (such as muscle force, bite force and joint reaction) for a biting cycle were obtained from an MDA and applied to load a finite element model. Fifty load steps corresponding to bilateral biting towards the front, middle and back of the dentition were implemented. Our results show the importance of performing MDA as a preliminary step to FEA, and provide an insight into the variation of stress during biting. Our findings show that higher stress occurs in regions where cranial sutures are located in functioning skulls, and as such support the hypothesis that sutures may play a pivotal role in relieving stress and producing a more uniform pattern of stress distribution across the skull. Additionally, we demonstrate how varying bite point affects stress distributions and relate stress distributions to the evolution of metakinesis in the amniote skull.