Functional Structure of the Skull in HominoideaPreuschoft H.a · Witzel U.b
aAbteilung Funktionelle Morphologie, Anatomisches Institut,Medizinische Fakultät, und bForschungsbereich Biomechanik,Fakultät für Maschinenbau, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Deutschland
Finite elements stress analysis (FESA) was used to investigate the flow of compressive forces which occur if a homogenous, three-dimensional body representing the skull is loaded by simulated bite forces against the tooth row. Model 1 represents the snout alone. Bite forces are applied simultaneously, but increase rearward. Stresses in the model concentrate along the anterior contour and the lower surface of the model, leaving unstressed a nasal opening and a wide naso-oral connection. Model 2 represents the facial region, as far as the temporomandibular joint. The orbits and the nasal cavity are assumed to be present a priori. Model 3 applies reactions to the bite forces in the temporal fossa, corresponding to the origins of the masticatory muscles. Regions of the model under compressive stress correspond closely to the arrangement of bony material in a hominoid skull. If only the stress-bearing finite elements on each section are combined, and the stress-free parts neglected, the resulting three-dimensional shape is surprisingly similar to a hominoid skull. If bite forces are applied to parts of the tooth row only, the stress patterns are lower, asymmetrical and do not spread into all regions that are stress-bearing in simultaneous biting on all teeth. In model 2, the highest stresses occur at the tooth roots and along the forehead on top of the nasal roof. There are no marked stress concentrations on top of the orbits. The resulting shape resembles that of an orang-utan. In model 3, the highest stresses also occur at the tooth roots, but the circles of force mostly close below the brain case, so that the stress concentration in the forehead region remains much less marked. In this model, however, the stress concentrations are very similar to hollow brow ridges. The entire resulting shape resembles that of gorilla or chimpanzee skulls. A typical gracile australopithecine skull (STS-5) also shows clear similarities to the patterns of stress flow in our models. Compared to our earlier study of the modern human skull, differences relate to: the relative length and width of the dental arcade, the relative size of the brain case and the position of the arcade relative to the brain case. It seems that these traits are the points of attack of selective pressures, while all other morphological details are simply consequences of stress flow.