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Animal Locomotion, Joint Torque


Animal locomotion is influenced by a combination of constituent joint torques (e.g., due to limb inertia and passive viscoelasticity), which determine the necessary muscular response to move the limb. Across animal size-scales, the relative contributions of these constituent joint torques affect the muscular response in different ways. We used a multi-muscle biomechanical model to analyze how passive torque components change due to an animal’s size-scale during locomotion. By changing the size-scale of the model, we characterized emergent muscular responses at the hip as a result of the changing constituent torque profile. Specifically, we found that activation phases between extensor and flexor torques to be opposite between small and large sizes for the same kinematic motion. These results suggest general principles of how animal size affects neural control strategies. Our modeled torque profiles show a strong agreement with documented hindlimb torque during locomotion and can provide insights into the neural organization and muscle activation behavior of animals whose motion has not been extensively documented.


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