Relationship leg length and foot locomotion

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

Stride length, duty factor (the fraction of the stride, for which the foot is on the legs have mass as well as elastic compliance predicts well the relationship. The birds are thus assumed to keep the feet either stretched out backwards or We consider these species to be dependent on speed of locomotion, which is .. The allometric relationship between the femur and the remaining leg length (tbt. Leg morphology and locomotion in birds: requirements for force and speed during ankle . However, the mass and the length of the toes also greatly influence the . The relationship between the tarsometatarsus length and the body mass.

Serious proposals about the hierarchy of humanness appeared as recently as with the publication of The Origin of Races by Carleton Coon [ 3 ], Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Shea and Bailey [ 7 ] show that African pygmies are reduced in overall size and have a body shape that is allometrically proportional to the size reduction.

Discarding the racist history of the study of human morphology allowed research to focus on more meaningful biological, medical, social, and aesthetic implications of human body size and shape.

Terrestrial locomotion

In this article, we review the evidence that human body shape, especially the length of the legs relative to total stature, is an important indicator for epidemiology and environmental public health. We find that across the human species, as well as within geographic, social, and ethnic groups of people, relative leg length reflects nutritional status and health during the years of physical growth and also has biologically and statistically significant associations with risks for morbidity and mortality in adulthood.

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

We do so because in a living human being it is difficult to measure anatomical LL. The maximum length of the femur is measured from its head, at the proximal end, to its medial condyle, at the distal end. In life, the femur and pelvic bones overlap and the head of the femur is difficult to assess due to its articulation within the acetabulum.

A nail is similarly constructed except that the unguis is more or less flat, not folding over the subunguis. The subunguis is very much reduced to a thin band just under the outer edge of the nail.

Hooves are also derived from claws; in a hoof, the unguis completely surrounds the subunguis, which remains exposed only at the tip of the digit. Limbs are drastically modified to different ends in various groups of mammals.

Here, we are concerned primarily with modifications that affect how an animal runs. Running Fast Several terms describe how and where an animal moves.

Leg Length, Body Proportion, and Health: A Review with a Note on Beauty

Aquatic animals swim; volant animals fly. Cursorial animals cursors run rapidly and for long distances. Scansorial animals are climbers; in the extreme, they are arboreal, spending most of their lives in the trees. Hoppers are termed saltatorial. If they use their hindlimbs only and in a fast succession of hops, they are said to be ricochetal. Fossorial forms are diggers, usually living in burrows.

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

Here, we focus on the adaptations of cursors. A full cycle of motion of a running or walking mammal is called a stride. An animal's speed is the product of its stride length times rate. There are two ways of increasing the speed of running, increasing stride length and increasing stride rate.

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

Some animals are clearly specialized to increase speed through increasing stride length; the giraffe is an extreme example. Others move rapidly by having a very fast stride rate; these would include, for example, shrews and voles. Stride Length One way to increase stride length is to run on the tips of the toes.


We recognize three basic patterns. Plantigrade species are those that place the full length of their foot, including podials and metapodials, on the ground during each stride. Humans and bears are examples.

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

Digitigrade species walk with most of the length of their digits, but not the soles of their feet, in contact with the ground. Dogs and cats are examples.

Unguligrade species walk on their tiptoes, often on hooves. Deer and horses are examples.

Terrestrial locomotion - Wikipedia

A second way of increasing stride length, often found in unguligrade species, is to lengthen limb elements. A common way to do this, found in several groups, is elongation of the metapodials. This is often coupled with a reduction in number of these bones. Cursorial carnivores such as canids and cheetahs have metapodials that are very long compared to their digits, and the first metapodial and digit is reduced or lost. The extreme cases of elongation are seen in the ungulate orders, Perissodactya and Artiodactyla.

In each order, a progression of elongation can be seen among families. Among perissodactyls, rhinos and tapirs have three or four toes, but the center one 3 is enlarged and bears much of the weight a condition termed mesaxonic.

In horsesthe 3rd metapodial is very long, similar in length to the other main limb elements. The other toes are lost or reduced to the point of being slivers of bones that fuse with the 3rd. A discriminant analysis of the groups based on leg morphology shows that swimming birds, wading birds and ground living species are more easily identified than other birds. Furthermore, functional predictions are made for each group based on ecological and mechanical considerations.

relationship leg length and foot locomotion

The groups were tested for deviation from the norm for all birds for three indices of size- and leg-length-independent measures of the bones and for a size-independent-index of leg length.

Several of the groups deviate significantly from the norm for one or more of the indices used, suggesting habitat-related adaptations in the leg morphology of birds. The results indicate that stability is an important factor affecting the leg morphology of primarily long-legged birds. The femur seems to be more important than previously thought because several of the groups have high femur indices, suggesting a positive selection pressure on this bone.

On a general basis, the results suggest that the effect of leg length should be taken into consideration when discussing adaptations of mass-independent lengths of the long bones of the legs of birds. Each behaviour associated with a specific habitat should be favoured by a certain morphological shape and the observed morphology of a species should be some trade-off between the different selection pressures acting on the birds.

For example, there are several studies of the hind limb morphology of birds involving specific ecological aspects Palmgren, ; Engels, ; Spring, ; Alexander et al. These studies show that there is a large variation in the possible bone lengths among bird species Fig.

There have been few studies that include many species from distantly related groups with different habitat use and different use of the legs, and it is necessary to test whether the results from smaller studies can be upheld. Furthermore, studies on a large number of species can reveal cases of convergent evolution, which may aid the understanding of the selection within a habitat. No published studies present such an overview of the hind limb adaptations to habitat use by birds.

View large Download slide The three long leg bones from top down, femur, tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus, of six different species of birds, illustrating the diversity of the bone length proportions in birds.

Leg Length, Body Proportion, and Health: A Review with a Note on Beauty

From left to right: In the present study, bird species are divided into six habitat groups based on hind limb use, and predictions for the skeletal morphology of the hind limb are presented for each group based on ecological and functional arguments.

The aim of this study is to test these predictions and to separate the six ecological groups with regards to the hind limb skeletal elements. We divided the birds into the following categories: