Long bone curvature in animal limbs has long been a subject of interest and much work has explored why long bones should be curved. However, the 'when' and 'how' of curvature development is poorly understood. It has been shown that the rat tibia fails to attain its normal curvature if the action of muscles is removed early in life, but it is not clear if this is because the curvature fails to develop or if the bone becomes straighter without the action of muscles. No studies have examined the development of bone curvature in a normally developing quadruped, so this study tracks the course of curvature formation in the radioulna in a series of growing pigs. We also histologically examined the epiphyseal growth plates of these bones to determine if they contribute to the formation of curvature. In all three epiphyseal plates examined, the proliferative zone is thicker and more densely populated with chondrocytes on the cranial (convex) side than the caudal (concave) side. Frost's chondral modelling theory would suggest that the cranial side of the bone is under more compression than the caudal side, and we conclude that this is due to the action of triceps extending the elbow by pulling on the olecranon process. These results support the idea that bone curvature is an adaptation to habitual loading, where longitudinal loads acting on the curved bone cause bending strains that counter the bending resulting from the habitual muscle action.
Pantinople, J., McCabe, K., Henderson, K., Richards, H. L., & Milne, N. (2017). The development of curvature in the porcine radioulna. PeerJ, 2017(6). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3386