Computational biomechanical modelling of the rabbit cranium during mastication

Peter J. Watson, Alana Sharp, Tarun Choudhary, Michael J Fagan, Hugo Dutel, Susan E. Evans, Flora Gröning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although a functional relationship between bone structure and mastication has been shown in some regions of the rabbit skull, the biomechanics of the whole cranium during mastication has yet to be fully explored. In terms of cranial biomechanics, the rabbit is a particularly interesting species due to its uniquely fenestrated rostrum and its debated mechanical function. In addition, the rabbit
processes food through incisor and molar biting within a single bite cycle, and the potential influence of these bite modes on skull biomechanics remains unknown. This study combined the in silico methods of multi-body dynamics and finite element analysis to compute musculoskeletal forces associated with a range of incisor and molar biting, and predict the associated strains. The results
show that the majority of the cranium, including the fenestrated rostrum, transmits masticatory strains. The peak strains generated over all bites were found to be attributed to both incisor and molar biting. This could be a consequence of a skull shape adapted to promote an even strain distribution for a combination of infrequent incisor bites and cyclic molar bites. However, some
regions, such as the supraorbital process, experienced low peak strain for all masticatory loads considered, suggesting such regions are not designed to resist masticatory forces
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Jun 2021

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