Inverse remodelling algorithm identifies habitual manual activities of primates based on metacarpal bone architecture

Alexander Synek, Christopher J Dunmore, Tracy L Kivell, Matthew M Skinner, Dieter H Pahr

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

8 Citations (Scopus)


Previously, a micro-finite element (micro-FE)-based inverse remodelling method was presented in the literature that reconstructs the loading history of a bone based on its architecture alone. Despite promising preliminary results, it remains unclear whether this method is sensitive enough to detect differences of bone loading related to pathologies or habitual activities. The goal of this study was to test the sensitivity of the inverse remodelling method by predicting joint loading histories of metacarpal bones of species with similar anatomy but clearly distinct habitual hand use. Three groups of habitual hand use were defined using the most representative primate species: manipulation (human), suspensory locomotion (orangutan), and knuckle-walking locomotion (bonobo, chimpanzee, gorilla). Nine to ten micro-computed tomography scans of each species ([Formula: see text] in total) were used to create micro-FE models of the metacarpal head region. The most probable joint loading history was predicted by optimally scaling six load cases representing joint postures ranging from [Formula: see text] (extension) to [Formula: see text] (flexion). Predicted mean joint load directions were significantly different between knuckle-walking and non-knuckle-walking groups ([Formula: see text]) and in line with expected primary hand postures. Mean joint load magnitudes tended to be larger in species using their hands for locomotion compared to species using them for manipulation. In conclusion, this study shows that the micro-FE-based inverse remodelling method is sensitive enough to detect differences of joint loading related to habitual manual activities of primates and might, therefore, be useful for palaeoanthropologists to reconstruct the behaviour of extinct species and for biomedical applications such as detecting pathological joint loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-410
Number of pages12
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Joints/physiology
  • Male
  • Metacarpal Bones/anatomy & histology
  • Primates/physiology
  • Weight-Bearing
  • X-Ray Microtomography
  • Inverse remodelling
  • Micro-finite element
  • Load estimation
  • Hand
  • Metacarpal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Inverse remodelling algorithm identifies habitual manual activities of primates based on metacarpal bone architecture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this