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Hind limb movements of the american alligator alligator mississippiensis and postural grades

Hind limb movements of the american alligator alligator mississippiensis and postural grades

Journal of Zoology (London) 224(4): 577-588

ISSN/ISBN: 0952-8369

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1991.tb03786.x

The hind limb kinematics of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) executing the high walk were analysed using cineradiography. The stance phase is characterized by hip extension of, knee extension of and a flexion ( ( sequence of the ankle. At initial foot contact with the substratum, the femur is positioned from the sagittal plane of the sacrum. During retraction the femur is abducted to a maximum angle of near foot lift-off. A slight medial rotation about the femoral axis takes place to maintain the orientation of the femoral condyles. The sacral region undergoes rotation about a vertical axis of and transverse roll of with each stride. One individual used an atypical limb posture in which the femur was adducted to rather than abducted during the stance phase. Although the crocodilian high walk appears to be a good example of a 'semi-erect' posture that is intermediate between 'sprawling' and 'fully erect', the current system of postural grades hampers our understanding of locomotor variability and diversity. Grades must be considered categorical abstractions until enough data can be acquired to demonstrate that postural divisions are based on well-defined kinematic parameters and functional mechanisms. The indiscriminate use of postural grades, particularly in fossil taxa, blurs differences between members of each grade and artificially broadens distinctions between members of different grades.

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Accession: 007401189

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