Takeoff and landing are critical phases in a flight. To better understand the functional importance of the kinematic adjustments birds use to execute these flight modes, we studied the wing and body movements of pigeons (Columba livia) during short-distance free-flights between two perches. The greatest accelerations were observed during the second wingbeat of takeoff. The wings were responsible for the majority of acceleration during takeoff and landing, with the legs contributing only one-quarter of the acceleration. Parameters relating to aerodynamic power output such as downstroke amplitude, wingbeat frequency and downstroke velocity were all greatest during takeoff flight and decreased with each successive takeoff wingbeat. This pattern indicates that downstroke velocity must be greater for accelerating flight to increase the amount of air accelerated by the wings. Pigeons used multiple mechanisms to adjust thrust and drag to accelerate during takeoff and decelerate during landing. Body angle, tail angle and wing plane angles all shifted from more horizontal orientations during takeoff to near-vertical orientations during landing, thereby reducing drag during takeoff and increasing drag during landing. The stroke plane was tilted steeply downward throughout takeoff (increasing from -60+/-5 deg. to -47+/-1 deg.), supporting our hypothesis that a downward-tilted stroke plane pushes more air rearward to accelerate the bird forward. Similarly, the stroke plane tilted upward during landing (increasing from -1+/-2 deg. to 17+/-7 deg.), implying that an upward-tilted stroke plane pushes more air forward to slow the bird down. Rotations of the stroke plane, wing planes and tail were all strongly correlated with rotation of the body angle, suggesting that pigeons are able to redirect aerodynamic force and shift between flight modes through modulation of body angle alone.
The functional roles of the lateral gastrocnemius (LG), medial gastrocnemius (MG) and superficial digital flexor (SDF) muscle-tendon units (MTUs) in domestic goats (N=6) were studied as a function of locomotor grade, testing the hypothesis that changes in distal limb muscle work would reflect changes in mechanical work requirements while goats walked or trotted on the level, 15 deg. decline and 15 deg. incline. As steep terrain-adapted animals, changes in muscle work output are expected to be particularly important for goats. In vivo muscle-tendon forces, fascicle length changes and muscle activation were recorded via tendon force buckles, sonomicrometry and electromyography to evaluate the work performance and elastic energy recovery of the three distal MTUs. These recordings confirmed that fascicle strain and force within goat distal hind limb muscles are adjusted in response to changes in mechanical work demand associated with locomotor grade. In general, muscle work was modulated most consistently by changes in fascicle strain, with increased net shortening (P<0.001) observed as goats switched from decline to level to incline locomotion. Peak muscle stresses increased as goats increased speed from a walk to a trot within each grade condition (P<0.05), and also increased significantly with grade (P<0.05 to P<0.01). Due to the increase in net fascicle shortening and muscle force, net muscle work per cycle also increased significantly (P<0.05 to P<0.005) as goats switched from decline to level to incline conditions (LG work: 20 mJ to 56 mJ to 209 mJ; MG work: -7 mJ to 34 mJ to 179 mJ; SDF work: -42 mJ to 14 mJ to 71 mJ, at a 2.5 ms(-1) trot). Although muscle work was modulated in response to changes in grade, the amount of work produced by these three distal pennate muscles was small (being <3%) in comparison with the change in mechanical energy required of the limb as a whole. Elastic energy recovery in the SDF and gastrocnemius (GA) tendons was substantial across all three grades, with the SDF tendon recovering 2.4 times more energy, on average, than the GA tendon. In parallel with the increase in muscle-tendon force, tendon energy recovery also increased as goats increased speed and changed gait, reaching the highest levels when goats trotted on an incline at 2.5 ms(-1) (GA: 173 mJ; SDF: 316 mJ). In general, tendon elastic energy exceeded net muscle work across all grade and gait conditions. These results demonstrate, for the first time in a quadruped, similar findings to those observed in ankle extensor muscles in humans, wallabies, turkeys and guinea fowl, suggesting that distal muscle-tendon architecture more generally favors a design for economic force production and tendon elastic energy recovery, with the majority of limb work during incline or decline running performed by larger proximal muscles.
Muscle fatigue, a reduction in force as a consequence of exercise, is an important factor for any animal that moves, and can result from both peripheral and/or central mechanisms. Although much is known about whole-limb force generation and activation patterns in fatigued muscles under sustained isometric contractions, little is known about the in vivo dynamics of limb muscle function in relation to whole-body fatigue. Here we show that limb kinematics and contractile function in the lateral (LG) and medial (MG) gastrocnemius of helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) are significantly altered following fatiguing exercise at 2ms-1 on an inclined treadmill. The two most significant findings were that the variation in muscle force generation, measured directly from the muscles' tendons, increased significantly with fatigue, and fascicle shortening in the proximal MG, but not the distal MG, decreased significantly with fatigue. We suggest that the former is a potential mechanism for decreased stability associated with fatigue. The region-specific alteration of fascicle behaviour within the MG as a result of fatigue suggests a complex response to fatigue that probably depends on muscle-aponeurosis and tendon architecture not previously explored. These findings highlight the importance of studying the integrative in vivo dynamics of muscle function in response to fatigue.
Here we investigate the interplay between intrinsic mechanical and neural factors in muscle contractile performance during running, which has been less studied than during walking. We report in vivo recordings of the gastrocnemius muscle of the guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), during the response and recovery from an unexpected drop in terrain. Previous studies on leg and joint mechanics following this perturbation suggested that distal leg extensor muscles play a key role in stabilisation. Here, we test this through direct recordings of gastrocnemius fascicle length (using sonomicrometry), muscle-tendon force (using buckle transducers), and activity (using indwelling EMG). Muscle recordings were analysed from the stride just before to the second stride following the perturbation. The gastrocnemius exhibits altered force and work output in the perturbed and first recovery strides. Muscle work correlates strongly with leg posture at the time of ground contact. When the leg is more extended in the drop step, net gastrocnemius work decreases (-5.2 J kg(-1) versus control), and when the leg is more flexed in the step back up, it increases (+9.8 J kg(-1) versus control). The muscle's work output is inherently stabilising because it pushes the body back toward its pre-perturbation (level running) speed and leg posture. Gastrocnemius length and force return to level running means by the second stride following the perturbation. EMG intensity differs significantly from level running only in the first recovery stride following the perturbation, not within the perturbed stride. The findings suggest that intrinsic mechanical factors contribute substantially to the initial changes in muscle force and work. The statistical results suggest that a history-dependent effect, shortening deactivation, may be an important factor in the intrinsic mechanical changes, in addition to instantaneous force-velocity and force-length effects. This finding suggests the potential need to incorporate history-dependent muscle properties into neuromechanical simulations of running, particularly if high muscle strains are involved and stability characteristics are important. Future work should test whether a Hill or modified Hill type model provides adequate prediction in such conditions. Interpreted in light of previous studies on walking, the findings support the concept of speed-dependent roles of reflex feedback.
The roles of muscles that span a single joint (monoarticular) versus those that span two (biarticular) or more joints have been suggested to differ. Monoarticular muscles are argued to perform work at a joint, whereas biarticular muscles are argued to transfer energy while resisting moments across adjacent joints. To test these predictions, in vivo patterns of muscle activation, strain, and strain rate were compared using electromyography and sonomicrometry in two major elbow extensors, the long and lateral heads of the triceps brachii of goats (Capra hircus), across a range of speed (1-5 m s(-1)) and gait. Muscle recordings were synchronized to limb kinematics using high-speed digital video imaging (250 Hz). Measurements obtained from four goats (25-45 kg) showed that the monoarticular lateral head exhibited a stretch-shortening pattern (6.8+/-0.6% stretch and -10.6+/-2.7% shortening; mean+/-s.e.m. for all speeds and gaits) after being activated, which parallels the flexion-extension pattern of the elbow. By contrast, the biarticular long head shortened through most of stance (-16.4+/-3.4%), despite elbow flexion in the first half and shoulder extension in the last half of stance. The magnitude of elbow flexion and shoulder extension increased with increasing speed (ANCOVA, P<0.05 and P<0.001), as did the magnitude and rate of active stretch of fascicles in the lateral head (P<0.001 for both). In all individuals, shortening fascicle strain rates increased with speed in the long head (P<0.001), and, in three of the four individuals, strain magnitude increased. Few independent effects of gait were found. In contrast to its expected function, the biarticular long head appears to produce positive work throughout stance, whereas the monoarticular lateral head appears to absorb work at the elbow. The biarticular anatomy of the long head may mitigate increases in muscle strain with speed in this muscle, because strain magnitude in the second phase of stance (when the shoulder extends) decreased with speed (P<0.05).
The supracoracoideus (SUPRA) is the primary upstroke muscle for avian flight and is the antagonist to the downstroke muscle, the pectoralis (PECT). We studied in vivo contractile properties and mechanical power output of both muscles during take-off, level and landing flight. We measured muscle length change and activation using sonomicrometry and electromyography, and muscle force development using strain recordings on the humerus. Our results support a hypothesis that the primary role of the SUPRA is to supinate the humerus. Antagonistic forces exerted by the SUPRA and PECT overlap during portions of the wingbeat cycle, thereby offering a potential mechanism for enhancing control of the wing. Among flight modes, muscle strain was approximately the same in the SUPRA (33-40%) and the PECT (35-42%), whereas peak muscle stress was higher in the SUPRA (85-126 N m(-2)) than in the PECT (50-58 N m(-2)). The SUPRA mainly shortened relative to resting length and the PECT mainly lengthened. We estimated that elastic energy storage in the tendon of the SUPRA contributed between 28 and 60% of the net work of the SUPRA and 6-10% of the total net mechanical work of both muscles. Mechanical power output in the SUPRA was congruent with the estimated inertial power required for upstroke, but power output from the PECT was only 42-46% of the estimated aerodynamic power requirements for flight. There was a significant effect of flight mode upon aspects of the contractile behavior of both muscles including strain, strain rate, peak stress, work and power.
The aim of this study was to examine hind limb scaling of the musculoskeletal system in the Macropodoidea, the superfamily containing wallabies and kangaroos, to re-examine the effect of size on the locomotor mechanics and physiology of marsupial hopping. Morphometric musculoskeletal analyses were conducted of 15 species and skeletal specimens of 21 species spanning a size range from 0.8 to 80 kg that included representatives of 12 of the 16 extant genera of macropodoids. We found that unlike other groups, macropodoids are able to match force demands associated with increasing body size primarily through a combination of positive allometry in muscle area and muscle moment arms. Isometric scaling of primary hind limb bones suggests, however, that larger species experience relatively greater bone stresses. Muscle to tendon area ratios of the ankle extensors scale with strong positive allometry, indicating that peak tendon stresses also increase with increasing body size but to a lesser degree than previously reported. Consistent with previous morphological and experimental studies, large macropodoids are therefore better suited for elastic strain energy recovery but operate at lower safety factors, which likely poses an upper limit to body size. Scaling patterns for extant macropodoids suggest that extinct giant kangaroos (approximately 250 kg) were likely limited in locomotor capacity.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of non-steady locomotor activities on load predictability in two goat forelimb bones and to explore the degree to which bone curvature influences load predictability. We measured in vivo bone strains in the radius and metacarpus of juvenile goats performing a variety of natural behaviors in an outdoor arena and compared these strain magnitudes and loading patterns with those measured during steady-state treadmill locomotion. We sought to test two hypotheses: our first hypothesis expects an increase in the variability of strain magnitude and pattern during outdoor non-steady behavior when compared to treadmill locomotion. Our second hypothesis was that the curved radius experiences higher peak strains but less variability during non-steady activities than the straighter metacarpus. We found that unsteady, outdoor locomotion generally caused more variable strain patterns (consistent with the first hypothesis), but not more variable strain magnitudes, than treadmill locomotion in both bones. During outdoor locomotion, higher magnitude strain events in the radius showed more constrained loading patterns than in the metacarpus (consistent with the second hypothesis). In addition to the radius experiencing significantly greater bending strains compared to the straighter metacarpus, these results support the idea of a trade-off between increased predictability of loading pattern and increased bending-induced strain. Strain magnitudes recorded during both outdoor and treadmill locomotion showed a lognormal frequency distribution, but the outdoor bone strain distributions had a greater range because they included high magnitude loading events that did not occur during steady treadmill locomotion.
Hindlimb musculoskeletal anatomy and steady speed over ground hopping mechanics were compared in two species of macropod marsupials, tammar wallabies and yellow-footed rock wallabies (YFRW). These two species are relatively closely related and are of similar size and general body plan, yet they inhabit different environments with presumably different musculoskeletal demands. Tammar wallabies live in relatively flat, open habitat whereas yellow-footed rock wallabies inhabit steep cliff faces. The goal of this study was to explore musculoskeletal differences between tammar wallabies and yellow-footed rock wallabies and determine how these differences influence each species' hopping mechanics. We found the cross-sectional area of the combined ankle extensor tendons of yellow-footed rock wallabies was 13% greater than that of tammar wallabies. Both species experienced similar ankle joint moments during steady-speed hopping, however due to a lower mechanical advantage at this joint, tammar wallabies produced 26% more muscle force. Thus, during moderate speed hopping, yellow-footed rock wallabies operated with 38% higher tendon safety factors, while tammar wallabies were able to store 73% more elastic strain energy (2.18 J per leg vs. 1.26 J in YFRW). This likely reflects the differing demands of the environments inhabited by these two species, where selection for non-steady locomotor performance in rocky terrain likely requires trade-offs in locomotor economy.
We model the action of muscle-tendon system(s) about a given joint as a serial actuator and spring. By this technique, the experimental joint moment is imposed while the combined angular deflection of the actuator and spring are constrained to match the experimental joint angle throughout the stance duration. The same technique is applied to the radial leg (i.e., shoulder/hip-to-foot). The spring constant that minimizes total actuator work is considered optimal, and this minimum work is expressed as a fraction of total joint/radial leg work, yielding an actuation ratio (AR; 1 = pure actuation and 0 = pure compliance). To address work modulation, we determined the specific net work (SNW), the absolute value of net divided by total work. This ratio is unity when only positive or negative work is done and zero when equal energy is absorbed and returned. Our proximodistal predictions of joint function are supported during level and 15 degrees grade running. The greatest AR and SNW are found in the proximal leg joints (elbow and knee). The ankle joint is the principal spring of the hindleg and shows no significant change in SNW with grade, reflecting the true compliance of the common calcaneal tendon. The principal foreleg spring is the metacarpophalangeal joint. The observed pattern of proximal actuation and distal compliance, as well as the substantial SNW at proximal joints, minimal SNW at intermediate joints, and variable energy absorption at distal joints, may emerge as general principles in quadruped limb mechanics and help to inform the leg designs of highly capable running robots.
Locomotion arises from the complex and coordinated function of limb muscles. Yet muscle function is dynamic over the course of a single stride and between strides for animals moving at different speeds or on variable terrain. While it is clear that motor unit recruitment can vary between and within muscles, we know little about how work is distributed within and between muscles under in vivo conditions. Here we show that the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) of helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) performs considerably more work than its synergist, the medial gastrocnemius (MG) and that the proximal region of the MG (pMG) performs more work than the distal region (dMG). Positive work done by the LG was approximately twice that of the proximal MG when the birds walked at 0.5 ms -1, and four times when running at 2.0 m s-1. This is probably due to different moments at the knee, as well as differences in motor unit recruitment. The dMG performed less work than the pMG because its apparent dynamic stiffness was greater, and because it exhibited a greater recruitment of slow-twitch fibres. The greater compliance of the pMG leads to increased stretch of its fascicles at the onset of force, further enhancing force production. Our results demonstrate the capacity for functional diversity between and within muscle synergists, which increases with changes in gait and speed.
Animals must continually adapt to varying locomotor demands when moving in their natural habitat. Despite the dynamic nature of locomotion, little is known about how multiple muscles, and different parts of a muscle, are functionally integrated as demand changes. In order to determine the extent to which synergist muscles are functionally heterogeneous, and whether this heterogeneity is altered with changes in demand, we examined the in vivo function of the lateral (LG) and medial (MG) gastrocnemius muscles of helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) during locomotion on different inclines (level and uphill at 14 degrees ) and at different speeds (0.5 and 2.0 m s(-1)). We also quantified function in the proximal (pMG) and distal (dMG) regions of the MG to examine the extent to which a single muscle is heterogeneous. We used electromyography, sonomicrometry and tendon force buckles to quantify activation, length change and force patterns of both muscles, respectively. We show that the LG and MG exhibited an increase in force and stress with a change in gait and an increase in locomotor speed, but not with changes in incline. While the LG and MG exhibited similar levels of stress when walking at 0.5 m s(-1), stress in the LG was 1.8 times greater than in the MG when running at 2.0 m s(-1). Fascicle shortening increased with an increase in speed on both inclines for the LG, but only on the level for the pMG. Positive work performed by the LG exceeded that of the pMG and dMG for all conditions, and this difference was magnified when locomotor speed increased. Within the MG, the pMG shortened more, and at a faster rate than the dMG, resulting in a greater amount of positive work performed by the pMG. Mean spike amplitude of the electromyogram (EMG) bursts increased for all muscle locations with an increase in speed, but changes with incline were more variable. The functional differences between the LG and MG are likely due to the different moments each exerts at the knee, as well as differences in motor unit recruitment. The differences within the MG are likely due to motor unit recruitment differences, but also differences in architecture. Fascicles within the dMG insert into an extensive aponeurosis, which results in a higher apparent dynamic stiffness relative to fascicles operating within the pMG. On the level surface, the greater compliance of the pMG leads to increased stretch of its fascicles at the onset of force, further enhancing force production. Our results demonstrate the capacity for functional diversity between and within muscle synergists, which occur with changes in gait, speed and grade.
We investigate how the biarticular long head and monoarticular lateral head of the triceps brachii function in goats (Capra hircus) during jumping and landing. Elbow moment and work were measured from high-speed video and ground reaction force (GRF) recordings. Muscle activation and strain were measured via electromyography and sonomicrometry, and muscle stress was estimated from elbow moment and by partitioning stress based on its relative strain rate. Elbow joint and muscle function were compared among three types of limb usage: jump take-off (lead limb), the step prior to jump take-off (lag limb), and landing. We predicted that the strain and work patterns in the monoarticular lateral head would follow the kinematics and work of the elbow more closely than would those of the biarticular long head. In general this prediction was supported. For instance, the lateral head stretched (5 +/- 2%; mean +/- SE) in the lead and lag limbs to absorb work during elbow flexion and joint work absorption, while the long head shortened (-7 +/- 1%) to produce work. During elbow extension, both muscles shortened by similar amounts (-10 +/- 2% long; -13 +/- 4% lateral) in the lead limb to produce work. Both triceps heads functioned similarly in landing, stretching (13 +/- 3% in the long head and 19 +/- 5% in the lateral) to absorb energy. In general, the long head functioned to produce power at the shoulder and elbow, while the lateral head functioned to resist elbow flexion and absorb work, demonstrating that functional diversification can arise between mono- and biarticular muscle agonists operating at the same joint.
Ascending or descending locomotion involves a change in potential energy (PE) and a corresponding change in power requirement. We sought to test whether the mechanical power required for steady ascending or descending flight is a simple sum of the power required for level flight and the power necessary for potential energy change. Pigeons (Columba livia) were trained to fly at varying angles of ascent and descent (60 degrees , 30 degrees , 0 degrees , -30 degrees , -60 degrees ), and were recorded using high-speed video. Detailed three-dimensional kinematics were obtained from the recordings, allowing analysis of wing movement. Aerodynamic forces and power requirements were then estimated from kinematic data. As expected, ;PE flight power' increased significantly with angle of flight (0.234 W deg.(-1)), though there appeared to be a limit on the amount of PE that the birds could gain or dissipate per wingbeat. We found that the total power output for flight at various angles was not different from the sum of power required for level flight and the PE rate of change for a given angle, except for the steep -60 degrees descent. The total power for steep descent was higher than this sum because of a higher induced power due to the bird's deceleration and slower flight velocity. Aerodynamic force estimates during mid-downstroke did not differ significantly in magnitude or orientation among flight angles. Pigeons flew fastest during -30 degrees flights (4.9+/-0.1 m s(-1)) and slowest at 60 degrees (2.9+/-0.1 m s(-1)). Although wingbeat frequency ranged from 6.1 to 9.6 Hz across trials, the variation was not significant across flight angles. Stroke plane angle was more horizontal, and the wing more protracted, for both +60 degrees and -60 degrees flights, compared with other flight path angles.
Hummingbirds are specialized for hovering flight, and substantial research has explored this behavior. Forward flight is also important to hummingbirds, but the manner in which they perform forward flight is not well documented. Previous research suggests that hummingbirds increase flight velocity by simultaneously tilting their body angle and stroke-plane angle of the wings, without varying wingbeat frequency and upstroke: downstroke span ratio. We hypothesized that other wing kinematics besides stroke-plane angle would vary in hummingbirds. To test this, we used synchronized high-speed (500 Hz) video cameras and measured the three-dimensional wing and body kinematics of rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus, 3 g, N=5) as they flew at velocities of 0-12 m s(-1) in a wind tunnel. Consistent with earlier research, the angles of the body and the stroke plane changed with velocity, and the effect of velocity on wingbeat frequency was not significant. However, hummingbirds significantly altered other wing kinematics including chord angle, angle of attack, anatomical stroke-plane angle relative to their body, percent of wingbeat in downstroke, wingbeat amplitude, angular velocity of the wing, wingspan at mid-downstroke, and span ratio of the wingtips and wrists. This variation in bird-centered kinematics led to significant effects of flight velocity on the angle of attack of the wing and the area and angles of the global stroke planes during downstroke and upstroke. We provide new evidence that the paths of the wingtips and wrists change gradually but consistently with velocity, as in other bird species that possess pointed wings. Although hummingbirds flex their wings slightly at the wrist during upstroke, their average wingtip-span ratio of 93% revealed that they have kinematically ;rigid' wings compared with other avian species.
The goal of this study is to explore how swimming animals produce the wide range of performance that is seen across their natural behaviors. In vivo recordings of plantaris longus muscle length change were obtained by sonomicrometry. Simultaneous with muscle length data, force measurements were obtained using a novel tendon buckle force transducer placed on the Achilles tendon of Xenopus laevis frogs during brief accelerating bursts of swimming. In vivo work loops revealed that the plantaris generates a variable amount of positive muscle work over a range of swimming cycle durations (from 0.23 to 0.76 s), resulting in a large range of cycle power output (from 2.32 to 74.17 W kg(-1) muscle). Cycle duration correlated negatively with cycle power, and cycle work correlated positively (varying as a function of peak cycle stress and, to a much lesser extent, fascicle strain amplitude). However, variation in cycle duration only contributed to 12% of variation in power, with cycle work accounting for the remaining 88%. Peak cycle stress and strain amplitude were also highly variable, yet peak stress was a much stronger predictor of cycle work than strain amplitude. Additionally, EMG intensity correlated positively with peak muscle stress (r(2)=0.53). Although the timing of muscle recruitment (EMG phase and EMG duty cycle) varied considerably within and among frogs, neither parameter correlated strongly with cycle power, cycle work, peak cycle stress or strain amplitude. These results suggest that relatively few parameters (cycle duration, peak cycle stress and strain amplitude) vary to permit a wide range of muscle power output, which allows anurans to swim over a large range of velocities and accelerations.
Neuromechanics seeks to understand how muscles, sense organs, motor pattern generators, and brain interact to produce coordinated movement, not only in complex terrain but also when confronted with unexpected perturbations. Applications of neuromechanics include ameliorating human health problems (including prosthesis design and restoration of movement following brain or spinal cord injury), as well as the design, actuation and control of mobile robots. In animals, coordinated movement emerges from the interplay among descending output from the central nervous system, sensory input from body and environment, muscle dynamics, and the emergent dynamics of the whole animal. The inevitable coupling between neural information processing and the emergent mechanical behavior of animals is a central theme of neuromechanics. Fundamentally, motor control involves a series of transformations of information, from brain and spinal cord to muscles to body, and back to brain. The control problem revolves around the specific transfer functions that describe each transformation. The transfer functions depend on the rules of organization and operation that determine the dynamic behavior of each subsystem (i.e., central processing, force generation, emergent dynamics, and sensory processing). In this review, we (1) consider the contributions of muscles, (2) sensory processing, and (3) central networks to motor control, (4) provide examples to illustrate the interplay among brain, muscles, sense organs and the environment in the control of movement, and (5) describe advances in both robotics and neuromechanics that have emerged from application of biological principles in robotic design. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that (1) intrinsic properties of muscle contribute to dynamic stability and control of movement, particularly immediately after perturbations; (2) proprioceptive feedback reinforces these intrinsic self-stabilizing properties of muscle; (3) control systems must contend with inevitable time delays that can simplify or complicate control; and (4) like most animals under a variety of circumstances, some robots use a trial and error process to tune central feedforward control to emergent body dynamics.
We examined the functional role of two major proximal leg extensor muscles of tammar wallabies during level and inclined hopping (12 degrees, 21.3% grade). Previous in vivo studies of hopping wallabies have revealed that, unlike certain avian bipeds, distal hindlimb muscles do not alter their force-length behavior to contribute positive work during incline hopping. This suggests that proximal muscles produce the increased mechanical work associated with moving up an incline. Based on relative size and architectural anatomy, we hypothesized that the biceps femoris (BF), primarily a hip extensor, and the vastus lateralis (VL), the main knee extensor, would exhibit changes in muscle strain and activation patterns consistent with increased work production during incline versus level hopping. Our results clearly support this hypothesis. The BF experienced similar activation patterns during level and incline hopping but net fascicle shortening increased (-0.5% for level hopping versus -4.2% for incline hopping) during stance when the muscle likely generated force. Unlike the BF, the VL experienced active net lengthening during stance, indicating that it absorbs energy during both level and incline hopping. However, during incline hopping, net lengthening was reduced (8.3% for level hopping versus 3.9% for incline hopping), suggesting that the amount of energy absorbed by the VL was reduced. Consequently, the changes in contractile behavior of these two muscles are consistent with a net production of work by the whole limb. A subsidiary aim of our study was to explore possible regional variation within the VL. Although there was slightly higher fascicle strain in the proximal VL compared with the distal VL, regional differences in strain were not significant, suggesting that the overall pattern of in vivo strain is fairly uniform throughout the muscle. Estimates of muscle work based on inverse dynamics calculations support the conclusion that both the BF and VL contribute to the additional work required for incline hopping. However, on a muscle mass-specific basis, these two muscles appear to contribute less than their share. This indicates that other hindlimb muscles, or possibly trunk and back muscles, must contribute substantial work during incline hopping.
Most studies examining changes in mechanical performance in animals across size have typically focused on inter-specific comparisons across large size ranges. Scale effects, however, can also have important consequences in vertebrates as they increase in size and mass during ontogeny. The goal of this study was to examine how growth and development in the emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) hindlimb skeleton reflects the demands placed upon it by ontogenetic changes in locomotor mechanics and body mass. Bone strain patterns in the femur and tibiotarsus (TBT) were related to ontogenetic changes in limb kinematics, ground reaction forces, and ontogenetic scaling patterns of the cross-sectional bone geometry, curvature and mineral ash content over a 4.4-fold increase in leg length and 65-fold increase in mass. Although the distribution of principal and axial strains remained similar in both bones over the ontogenetic size range examined, principal strains on the cranial femur and caudal femur and TBT increased significantly during growth. The ontogenetic increase in principal strains in these bones was likely caused by isometry or only slight positive allometry in bone cross-sectional geometry during growth, while relative limb loading remained similar. The growth-related increase in bone strain magnitude was likely mitigated by increased bone mineralization and decreased curvature. Throughout most of ontogeny, shear strains dominated loading in both bones. This was reflected in the nearly circular cross-sectional geometry of the femur and TBT, suggesting selection for resistance to high torsional loads, as opposed to the more eccentric cross-sectional geometries often associated with the bending common to tetrapods with parasagittal limb orientations, for which in vivo bone strains have typically been measured to date.
The reconfigurable, flapping wings of birds allow for both inertial and aerodynamic modes of reorientation. We found evidence that both these modes play important roles in the low speed turning flight of the rose-breasted cockatoo Eolophus roseicapillus. Using three-dimensional kinematics recorded from six cockatoos making a 90 degrees turn in a flight corridor, we developed predictions of inertial and aerodynamic reorientation from estimates of wing moments of inertia and flapping arcs, and a blade-element aerodynamic model. The blade-element model successfully predicted weight support (predicted was 88+/-17% of observed, N=6) and centripetal force (predicted was 79+/-29% of observed, N=6) for the maneuvering cockatoos and provided a reasonable estimate of mechanical power. The estimated torque from the model was a significant predictor of roll acceleration (r(2)=0.55, P<0.00001), but greatly overestimated roll magnitude when applied with no roll damping. Non-dimensional roll damping coefficients of approximately -1.5, 2-6 times greater than those typical of airplane flight dynamics (approximately -0.45), were required to bring our estimates of reorientation due to aerodynamic torque back into conjunction with the measured changes in orientation. Our estimates of inertial reorientation were statistically significant predictors of the measured reorientation within wingbeats (r(2) from 0.2 to 0.37, P<0.0005). Components of both our inertial reorientation and aerodynamic torque estimates correlated, significantly, with asymmetries in the activation profile of four flight muscles: the pectoralis, supracoracoideus, biceps brachii and extensor metacarpi radialis (r(2) from 0.27 to 0.45, P<0.005). Thus, avian flight maneuvers rely on production of asymmetries throughout the flight apparatus rather than in a specific set of control or turning muscles.