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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Apr;99(4):547-70.

Segment inertial properties of primates: new techniques for laboratory and field studies of locomotion.

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Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.


Studies of the dynamics of locomotor performances depend on knowledge of the distribution of body mass within and between limb segments. However, these data are difficult to derive. Segment mass properties have generally been estimated by modelling limbs as truncated cones, but this approach fails to take into account that some segments are of elliptical, not circular, cross section; and further, the profiles of real segments are generally curved. Thus, they are more appropriately modelled as solids of revolution, described by the rotation in space of convex or concave curves, and the possibility of an elliptical cross section needs to be taken into account. In this project we have set out to develop a general geometric model which can take these factors into account, and permit segment inertial properties to be derived from cadavers by segmentation, and from living individuals using linear external measurements. We present a model which may be described by up to four parameters, depending on the profile and serial cross section (circular or ellipsoidal) of the individual segments. The parameters are obtained from cadavers using a simplified complex-pendulum technique, and from intact specimens by calculation from measurements of segment diameters and lengths. From the parameters, the center of mass, moments of interia, and radii of gyration may be derived, using simultaneous equations. Inertial properties of the body segments of four Pan troglodytes and a single Pongo were determined, and contrasted to comparable findings for humans. Using our approach, the mass distribution characteristics of any individual or species may be represented by a rigid-link segment model or "android." If this is made to move according to motion functions derived from a real performance of the individual represented, we show that recordings of resulting ground reaction forces may be quite closely simulated by predictive dynamic modelling.

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