Computational biomechanical modelling of the rabbit cranium during mastication

Peter J. Watson* (Corresponding Author), Alana Sharp, Tarun Choudhary, Michael J Fagan, Hugo Dutel, Susan E. Evans, Flora Gröning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Although a functional relationship between bone structure and mastication has been shown in some regions of the rabbit skull, the biomechanics of the whole cranium during mastication has yet to be fully explored. In terms of cranial biomechanics, the rabbit is a particularly interesting species due to its uniquely fenestrated rostrum and its debated mechanical function. In addition, the rabbit
processes food through incisor and molar biting within a single bite cycle, and the potential influence of these bite modes on skull biomechanics remains unknown. This study combined the in silico methods of multi-body dynamics and finite element analysis to compute musculoskeletal forces associated with a range of incisor and molar biting, and predict the associated strains. The results
show that the majority of the cranium, including the fenestrated rostrum, transmits masticatory strains. The peak strains generated over all bites were found to be attributed to both incisor and molar biting. This could be a consequence of a skull shape adapted to promote an even strain distribution for a combination of infrequent incisor bites and cyclic molar bites. However, some
regions, such as the supraorbital process, experienced low peak strain for all masticatory loads considered, suggesting such regions are not designed to resist masticatory forces
Original languageEnglish
Article number13196
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding statement
We thank the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) who provided funding for this research (BB/I008462/1; BB/M008525/1; BB/M010287/1; BB/M008061/1).

We acknowledge the Viper High Performance Computing facility of the University of Hull and its support team for their help and assistance in running the FE analyses.


  • biomedical engineering
  • computational models
  • Musculosketal system


Dive into the research topics of 'Computational biomechanical modelling of the rabbit cranium during mastication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this