Using finite-element analysis to investigate suture morphology: a case study using large carnivorous dinosaurs.

Rayfield, E. J. (2005) Using finite-element analysis to investigate suture morphology: a case study using large carnivorous dinosaurs. The Anatomical Record Part A, 283A. pp. 349-365. DOI 10.1002/ar.a.20168

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Abstract

Finite-element analysis (FEA) can be used to investigate the mechanical significance of sutures and regions of intracranial flexibility in skulls. By modeling the stress response to feeding forces in a finite-element skull model (with appropriate boundary conditions), one can compare the axis of distortion and orientation of stress and strain in the model to the degree of movement at actual sutural contacts in the real skull. Hypotheses detailing the effect of introducing patency or flexibility on mechanical performance can be constructed and subsequently tested. In this study, the correlation between stress environment, cranial strength, and sutural morphology and mobility is investigated in the cranium of the large theropod dinosaur Allosaurus fragilis. Theropods are an especially interesting model system as their skulls were massive (over 100 cm in some cases), may have generated extremely large bite forces, yet patent sutures persisted between many of the facial bones. In this analysis, it was discovered that Allosaurus cranial sutures appear generally capable of accommodating stress and strain patterns generated during biting. This study highlights the potential of FEA in devising and testing hypotheses of form and function and argues that useful information can be obtained from finite-element models of extinct animals, providing that adequate assumptions are made and appropriate questions asked.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2005 AREP 2005 P IA47
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: The Anatomical Record Part A
Volume: 283A
Page Range: pp. 349-365
Identification Number: 10.1002/ar.a.20168
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2010 10:05
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 09:59
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/1791

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