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Computational biomechanical modelling of the rabbit cranium during mastication

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


Peter J. Watson

Alana C. Sharp

Tarun Choudhary

Michael J. Fagan

Hugo Dutel

Susan E. Evans

Flora Gröning


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),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 8, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 23, 2021
Publication Date Dec 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2021
Journal Scientific Reports
Print ISSN 2045-2322
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 1
Keywords Biomedical engineering; Computational models; Musculoskeletal system
Public URL


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© The Author(s) 2021<br /> Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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