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Masticatory biomechanics in the rabbit: a multi-body dynamics analysis

Watson, Peter J.; Gröning, Flora; Curtis, Neil; Fitton, Laura C.; Herrel, Anthony; McCormack, Steven W.; Fagan, Michael J.


Peter J. Watson

Flora Gröning

Neil Curtis

Laura C. Fitton

Anthony Herrel

Steven W. McCormack

Michael J. Fagan


Multi-body dynamics is a powerful engineering tool which is becoming increasingly popular for the simulation and analysis of skull biomechanics. This paper presents the first application of multi-body dynamics to analyse the biomechanics of the rabbit skull. A model has been constructed through the combination of manual dissection and three-dimensional imaging techniques (magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography). Individual muscles are represented with multiple layers, thus more accurately modelling muscle fibres with complex lines of action. Model validity was sought through comparing experimentally measured maximum incisor bite forces with those predicted by the model. Simulations of molar biting highlighted the ability of the masticatory system to alter recruitment of two muscle groups, in order to generate shearing or crushing movements. Molar shearing is capable of processing a food bolus in all three orthogonal directions, whereas molar crushing and incisor biting are predominately directed vertically. Simulations also showthat the masticatory system is adapted to process foods through several cycles with low muscle activations, presumably in order to prevent rapidly fatiguing fast fibres during repeated chewing cycles. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of a validated multi-body dynamics model for investigating feeding biomechanics in the rabbit, and shows the potential for complementing and eventually reducing in vivo experiments.


Watson, P. J., Gröning, F., Curtis, N., Fitton, L. C., Herrel, A., McCormack, S. W., & Fagan, M. J. (2014). Masticatory biomechanics in the rabbit: a multi-body dynamics analysis. Journal of the Royal Society interface / the Royal Society, 11(99), Article 20140564.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 14, 2014
Online Publication Date Aug 13, 2014
Publication Date Aug 13, 2014
Deposit Date Oct 30, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Interface
Print ISSN 1742-5689
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 99
Article Number 20140564
Keywords Multi-body dynamics analysis; Rabbit skull; Bite force; Mastication
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Interface, 2014, v.11, issue 99.
Contract Date Nov 23, 2017


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