Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Appendicular Muscle Physiology and Biomechanics in Crocodylus niloticus.


Archosaurian reptiles (including living crocodiles and birds) had an explosive diversification of locomotor form and function since the Triassic approximately 250 million years ago. Their limb muscle physiology and biomechanics are pivotal to our understanding of how their diversity and evolution relate to locomotor function. Muscle contraction velocity, force, and power in extinct archosaurs such as early crocodiles, pterosaurs, or non-avian dinosaurs are not available from fossil material, but are needed for biomechanical modeling and simulation. However, an approximation or range of potential parameter values can be obtained by studying extant representatives of the archosaur lineage. Here, we study the physiological performance of three appendicular muscles in Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus). Nile crocodile musculature showed high power and velocity values-the flexor tibialis internus 4 muscle, a small "hamstring" hip extensor, and knee flexor actively used for terrestrial locomotion, performed particularly well. Our findings demonstrate some physiological differences between muscles, potentially relating to differences in locomotor function, and muscle fiber type composition. By considering these new data from a previously unstudied archosaurian species in light of existing data (e.g., from birds), we can now better bracket estimates of muscle parameters for extinct species and related extant species. Nonetheless, it will be important to consider the potential specialization and physiological variation among muscles, because some archosaurian muscles (such as those with terrestrial locomotor function) may well have close to double the muscle power and contraction velocity capacities of others.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View