Testing the biomechanical optimality of the wall thickness of limb bones in the red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Balázs Bernáth, Bence Suhai, Balázs Gerics, Gábor Csorba, Mihály Gasparik, Gábor Horváth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The optimum for the ratio K of the internal to external diameter of a marrow-filled tubular bone with minimum mass designed to withstand a given type of strength (yield/fatigue, stiffness, fracture or impact) depends on Q=ρmb only, where ρm and ρb are the densities of marrow and bone. With computer-assisted evaluation of radiographs of 62 femurs in the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) we measured the values of K. The mean and standard deviation of K are 0.68 and 0.036, and K changes in the rather wide range from 0.59 to 0.74. Accepting the assumption of earlier authors that Q=0.50 or 0.44, our data would support the hypothesis that the fox femurs are optimized to withstand yield, fatigue or stiffness strengths. However, since the Q-values are unknown, the possibility cannot be excluded that any studied fox bone with an appropriately selected Q-value is optimized for any strength type. Assuming Q=0.50 or 0.44, the relative mass increments μ of the investigated fox bones are smaller than 5% under all four mechanical conditions. The evolutionary relevance of such tiny μ-values is questionable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1561-1572
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2004


  • Bone mechanics
  • Marrow-filled tubular bones
  • Optimum structure
  • Red fox
  • Vulpes vulpes
  • Wall thickness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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