Mandibular force profiles apply the principles of beam theory to identify mandibular biomechanical properties that reflect the bite force and feeding strategies of extant and extinct predators. While this method uses the external dimensions of the mandibular corpus to determine its biomechanical properties, more accurate results could potentially be obtained by quantifying its internal cortical bone distribution. To test this possibility, mandibular force profiles were calculated using both external mandibular dimensions (‘solid mandible model’) and quantification of internal bone distribution of the mandibular corpus obtained from computed tomography scans (‘hollow mandible model’) for five carnivorans (Canis lupus, Crocuta crocuta, Panthera leo, Neofelis nebulosa and the extinct Canis dirus). Comparison reveals that the solid model slightly overestimates mandibular biomechanical properties, but the pattern of change in biomechanical properties along the mandible remains the same. As such, feeding behavior reconstructions are consistent between the two models and are not improved by computed tomography. Bite force estimates produced by the two models are similar, except in C. crocuta, where the solid model underestimates bite force by 10–14%. This discrepancy is due to the more solid nature of the C. crocuta mandible relative to other carnivorans. Therefore, computed tomography improves bite force estimation accuracy for taxa with thicker mandibular corpora, but not significantly so otherwise. Bite force estimates derived from mandibular force profiles are far closer to empirically measured bite force than those inferred from jaw musculature dimension. Consequently, bite force estimates derived from this method can be used to calibrate finite-element analysis models.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
F.T. conceived the study. F.T. and A.Q. conducted the analyses. All authors assessed the results and wrote the manuscript.
This work was partially supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant (327513-2009 to D.K.Z.).
CT images are freely available on ResearchGate at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309702204_CT_scans.
- Received May 23, 2016.
- Accepted September 8, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd