A 3D musculoskeletal model of the western lowland gorilla hind limb: moment arms and torque of the hip, knee and ankle

Abstract

Three-dimensional musculoskeletal models have become increasingly common for investigating muscle moment arms in studies of vertebrate locomotion. In this study we present the first musculoskeletal model of a western lowland gorilla hind limb. Moment arms of individual muscles around the hip, knee and ankle were compared with previously published data derived from the experimental tendon travel method. Considerable differences were found which we attribute to the different methodologies in this specific case. In this instance, we argue that our 3D model provides more accurate and reliable moment arm data than previously published data on the gorilla because our model incorporates more detailed consideration of the 3D geometry of muscles and the geometric constraints that exist on their lines-of-action about limb joints. Our new data have led us to revaluate the previous conclusion that muscle moment arms in the gorilla hind limb are optimised for locomotion with crouched or flexed limb postures. Furthermore, we found that bipedalism and terrestrial quadrupedalism coincided more regularly with higher moment arms and torque around the hip, knee and ankle than did vertical climbing. This indicates that the ability of a gorilla to walk bipedally is not restricted by musculoskeletal adaptations for quadrupedalism and vertical climbing, at least in terms of moment arms and torque about hind limb joints.

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