Effective Mechanical Advantage Allometry of Felid Elbow and Knee Extensors

Christine M. Harper, Adam Sylvester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Larger terrestrial mammals have generally been found to use more extended limb postures, a mechanism which maintains muscular requirements at larger sizes by improving the effective mechanical advantage (EMA) of limb musculature. Felids, however, have been documented to maintain joint angles across body sizes. If felid morphology scales isometrically, it would mean larger felids have relatively weaker muscles, compromising locomotor activities. Here, we examine the allometric relationships between the EMA of the elbow and knee extensors and body mass, finding that the EMA of the triceps brachii and quadriceps muscles scale with positive allometry. When species-specific joint angles were used rather than felid-average joint angles, EMA scales to body mass with more positive allometry. When the scaling of the muscle and ground reaction force (GRF) lever arms were investigated individually the allometric signal was lost; however, the muscle lever arms generally have allometric slope coefficients that are consistent with positive allometry, while the GRF lever arms demonstrate negative allometric slope coefficients. This suggests there are subtle alterations to limb morphology allowing different felid species to achieve an increased EMA via distinctive mechanisms. The quadriceps EMA was found to scale with sufficient positive allometry to compensate for increases in size without alteration in muscular anatomy; however, this is not the case for the triceps brachii EMA. Anat Rec, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnatomical Record
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • biomechanics
  • locomotion
  • quadriceps
  • scaling
  • triceps brachii

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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