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[dinosaur] Sternal keel length and ilium length in birds + ostrich foot pressure (free pdfs)

Ben Creisler

New papers about birds:

free pdf

Tao Zhao​, Di Liu & Zhiheng Li​ (2017)
Correlated evolution of sternal keel length and ilium length in birds.
PeerJ 5:e3622
doi:  https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3622

The interplay between the pectoral module (the pectoral girdle and limbs) and the pelvic module (the pelvic girdle and limbs) plays a key role in shaping avian evolution, but prior empirical studies on trait covariation between the two modules are limited. Here we empirically test whether (size-corrected) sternal keel length and ilium length are correlated during avian evolution using phylogenetic comparative methods. Our analyses on extant birds and Mesozoic birds both recover a significantly positive correlation. The results provide new evidence regarding the integration between the pelvic and pectoral modules. The correlated evolution of sternal keel length and ilium length may serve as a mechanism to cope with the effect on performance caused by a tradeoff in muscle mass between the pectoral and pelvic modules, via changing moment arms of muscles that function in flight and in terrestrial locomotion.


Rui Zhang​, Dianlei Han, Songsong Ma, Gang Luo, Qiaoli Ji, Shuliang Xue, Mingming Yang & Jianqiao Li (2017)
Plantar pressure distribution of ostrich during locomotion on loose sand and solid ground. 
PeerJ 5:e3613 
doi: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3613


The ostrich is a cursorial bird with extraordinary speed and endurance, especially in the desert, and thus is an ideal large-scale animal model for mechanic study of locomotion on granular substrate.


The plantar pressure distributions of ostriches walking/running on loose sand/solid ground were recorded using a dynamic pressure plate.


The center of pressure (COP) on loose sand mostly originated from the middle of the 3rd toe, which differed from the J-shaped COP trajectory on solid ground. At mid-stance, a high-pressure region was observed in the middle of the 3rd toe on loose sand, but three high-pressure regions were found on solid ground. The gait mode significantly affected the peak pressures of the 3rd and 4th toes (p = 1.5 × 10−6 and 2.39 × 10−8, respectively), but not that of the claw (p = 0.041). The effects of substrate were similar to those of the gait mode.


Ground reaction force trials of each functional part showed the 3rd toe bore more body loads and the 4th toe undertook less loads. The pressure distributions suggest balance maintenance on loose sand was provided by the 3rd and 4th toes and the angle between their length axes. On loose sand, the middle of the 3rd toe was the first to touch the sand with a smaller attack angle to maximize the ground reaction force, but on solid ground, the lateral part was the first to touch the ground to minimize the transient loading. At push-off, the ostrich used solidification properties of granular sand under the compression of the 3rd toe to generate sufficient traction.