Finite element analysis: A promising tool for the reconstruction of extinct vertebrate graviportal taxa. A preliminary study based on the metacarpal arrangement of Elephas maximus

Florent GOUSSARD, Damien GERMAIN, Cyrille DELMER & Karen MORENO

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 9 (6-7) - Pages 455-461

Published on 30 November 2010

This article is a part of the thematic issue Imaging and 3D in palaeontology and palaeoanthropology

Finite element analysis (FEA) is a powerful tool to characterize the functional behaviour of bone. Here we use this technique to study the metacarpal arrangement of the Asian elephant. The objective of this work is to search for valid criteria that distinguish the known natural arrangement among a variety of configurations, including some fictitious ones. FEA yields significant statistical differences within the three arrangements tested. Our calculations suggest that the median value of stress (von Mises) could be a discriminant criterion, at least in graviportal taxa. Such a method could thus be applied to other graviportal organisms such as sauropod dinosaurs.


Biomechanics, Functional morphology, Metacarpal arrangement, Finite element analysis, Stress distribution

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