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 have yet to be fully explored. In terms of cranial biomechanics, the rabbit is a particularly interesting species due to its uniquely fenestrated rostrum, the mechanical function of which is debated. 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 to 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.
Watson, P. J., Sharp, A. C., Choudhary, T., Fagan, M. J., Dutel, H., Evans, S. E., & Gröning, F. (2021). Computational biomechanical modelling of the rabbit cranium during mastication. Scientific reports, 11(1), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92558-5