Material properties of mandibular cortical bone in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis

Uriel Zapata, Keith Metzger, Qian Wang, Ruth M. Elsey, Callum F. Ross, Paul C. Dechow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study reports the elastic material properties of cortical bone in the mandible of juvenile Alligator mississippiensis obtained by using an ultrasonic wave technique. The elastic modulus, the shear modulus, and Poisson's ratio were measured on 42 cylindrical Alligator bone specimens obtained from the lingual and facial surfaces of 4 fresh Alligator mandibles. The data suggest that the elastic properties of alligator mandibular cortical bone are similar to those found in mammals and are orthotropic. The properties most resemble those found in the cortex of mammalian postcranial long bones where the bone is most stiff in one direction and much less stiff in the two remaining orthogonal directions. This is different from cortical bone found in the mandibles of humans and some monkeys, where the bone has greatest stiffness in one direction, much less stiffness in another direction, and an intermediate amount in the third orthogonal direction. This difference suggests a relationship between levels of orthotropy and bending stress. The comparability of these elastic moduli to those of other vertebrates suggest that the high bone strain magnitudes recorded from the alligator mandible in vivo are not attributable to a lower stiffness of alligator mandibular bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-867
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone strain
  • Elastic properties
  • Jaw mechanics
  • Reptile
  • Ultrasound technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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