The knee has been the focus of many studies linking mammalian postcranial form with locomotor behaviors and animal ecology. A more difficult task has been linking joint morphology with joint kinematics during locomotor tasks. Joint curvature represents one opportunity to link postcranial morphology with walking kinematics because joint curvature develops in response to mechanical loading. As an initial examination of mammalian knee joint curvature, the curvature of the medial femoral condyle was measured on femora representing 11 ungulate species. The position of a region of low curvature was measured using a metric termed the "angle to low curvature". This low-curvature region is important because it provides the greatest contact area between femoral and tibial condyles. Kinematic knee angles during walking were derived from the literature and kinematic knee angles across the gait cycle were correlated with angle to low curvature values. The highest correlation between kinematic knee angle and the angle to low curvature metric occurred at 20% of the walking gait cycle. This early portion of the walking gait cycle is associated with a peak in the vertical ground reaction force for some mammals. The chondral modeling theory predicts that frequent and heavy loading of particular regions of a joint surface during ontogeny will result in these regions being flatter than the surrounding joint surface. The locations of flatter regions of the femoral condyles of ungulates, and their association with knee angles used during the early stance phase of walking provides support for the chondral modeling theory.
- Chondral modeling hypothesis
- Gait cycle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics