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Authors: Günther, Michael
Mörl, Falk
Title: Giraffes and hominins: reductionist model predictions of compressive loads at the spine base for erect exponents of the animal kingdom
Issue Date: 2021 Zeitschriftenartikel 10 Biology open 10 (2021), bio057224
ISSN: 2046-6390
Abstract: In humans, compressive stress on intervertebral discs is commonly deployed as a measurand for assessing the loads that act within the spine. Examining this physical quantity is crucially beneficial: the intradiscal pressure can be directly measured in vivo in humans, and is immediately related to compressive stress. Hence, measured intradiscal pressure data are utterly useful for validating such biomechanical animal models that have the spine incorporated, and can, thus, compute compressive stress values. Here, we utilise human intradiscal pressure data to verify the predictions of a reductionist spine model, which has in fact only one joint degree of freedom. We calculate the pulling force of one lumped anatomical structure that acts past this (intervertebral) joint at the base of the spine - lumbar in hominins, cervical in giraffes - to compensate the torque that is induced by the weight of all masses located cranially to the base. Given morphometric estimates of the human and australopith trunks, respectively, and the giraffe's neck, as well as the respective structures' lever arms and disc areas, we predict, for all three species, the compressive stress on the intervertebral disc at the spine base, while systematically varying the angular orientation of the species' spinal columns with respect to gravity. The comparison between these species demonstrates that hominin everyday compressive disc stresses are lower than such in big quadrupedal animals. Within each species, erecting the spine from being bent forward by, for example, thirty degrees to fully upright posture reduces the compressive disc stress roughly to a third. We conclude that erecting the spine immediately allows to carry extra loads of the order of body weight, and yet the compressive disc stress is lower than in a moderately forward-bent posture with none extra load.
Appears in Collections:02 Fakultät Bau- und Umweltingenieurwissenschaften

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