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The biomechanical role of the chondrocranium and sutures in a lizard cranium

Jones, Marc E. H.; Gröning, Flora; Dutel, Hugo; Sharp, Alana; Fagan, Michael J.; Evans, Susan E.


Marc E. H. Jones

Flora Gröning

Hugo Dutel

Alana Sharp

Michael J. Fagan

Susan E. Evans


The role of soft tissues in skull biomechanics remains poorly understood. Not least, the chondrocranium, the portion of the braincase which persists as cartilage with varying degrees of mineralization. It also remains commonplace to overlook the biomechanical role of sutures despite evidence that they alter strain distribution. Here, we examine the role of both the sutures and the chondrocranium in the South American tegu lizard Salvator merianae. We use multi-body dynamics analysis (MDA) to provide realistic loading conditions for anterior and posterior unilateral biting and a detailed finite element model to examine strain magnitude and distribution. We find that strains within the chondrocraniumare greatest during anterior biting and are primarily tensile; also that strain within the cranium is not greatly reduced by the presence of the chondrocraniumunless it is given the same material properties as bone. This result contradicts previous suggestions that the anterior portion (the nasal septum) acts as a supporting structure. Inclusion of sutures to the cranium model not only increases overall strain magnitudes but also leads to a more complex distribution of tension and compression rather than that of a beam under sagittal bending.


Jones, M. E. H., Gröning, F., Dutel, H., Sharp, A., Fagan, M. J., & Evans, S. E. (2017). The biomechanical role of the chondrocranium and sutures in a lizard cranium. Journal of the Royal Society interface / the Royal Society, 14(137), Article 20170637.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 20, 2017
Publication Date Dec 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 8, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 15, 2018
Journal Journal of The Royal Society Interface
Print ISSN 1742-5689
Electronic ISSN 1742-5662
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 137
Article Number 20170637
Keywords Biotechnology; Biophysics; Biochemistry; Bioengineering; Biomaterials; Biomedical Engineering
Public URL
Publisher URL


Jones Et Al - J Roy Soc Interface - 2017 (2.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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