by Fran Jurga | 9 June 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog
People make a lot of jokes about "boning" up on their equine anatomy knowledge, but Australian researcher Jonathan Merritt took it to heart and dedicated himself to creating a three-dimensional model of the lower limb of the horse, on which he has applied the ligaments that hold the entire apparatus together and the tendons that move its parts. He applied them layer by layer so that you can see the enormous complexity of the segmented structure of the equine limb.
The technical definition of a ligament is an attachment between two bones; generally a ligament is in a position that will make use of its fibruous strength in just the right place and angle to stabilize a joint. Ligaments allow flexion, but prevent malfunction. Tendons, of course, are extensions of the muscles in the upper limb that move the joints in the lower limb.
Jonathan Merritt's PhD thesis at the University of Melbourne was on the biomechanics of the forelimb of the horse. The focus of the research has been the relationship between the dynamics of locomotion and the strains induced in the third metacarpal bone. Dr. Merritt's work includes being lead researcher in the study Influence of Muscle-Tendon Wrapping on Calculations of Joint Reaction Forces in the Equine Distal Forelimb in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology (Click here to read online.)
Here's his description of how the little video was made: "The models of the bones were created from real equine limb bones using in-house photogrammetric software that I wrote. The bones were imported into Blender, and the ligaments and tendons were modeled by hand. Finally, a custom RenderMan exporter script was used to export the models and camera animations to the Aqsis renderer."
Dr. Merritt has been very generous to post this video and others he's made both on YouTube and vimeo.com.
I don't know that you can or should download it and hope that no one will abuse his generosity in both posting the videos and allowing them to be seen in places like this blog. The right thing to do would be to bookmark the video, send others to watch it and send an email to him letting him know you appreciated his hard work.
Encouraging talented people like Dr Merritt to pursue further studies in equine biomechanics and anatomy would benefit us all. Thanking generous people like him can't be done often enough.
Click here to go to Jonathan Merritt's home page on YouTube.com; you can send him an email from there and also see some of his other videos.
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