3D foot kinematics using bi-planar fluoroscopy and scientific rotoscopy

This project uses bi-planar fluoroscopy (XROMM) and scientific rotoscopy to study the effect of body mass and foot anatomy on the 3D motion of all feet joints in large mammals (ranging from pigs to elephants).


In collaboration with Prof. Hutchinson (The Royal Veterinary College) and Prof. Gatesy(Brown University)

Comparative biomechanics of mammalian feet: an integrative 3D analysis

We developed a novel approach for this study that integrates three-dimensional data from biplanar radiography (XROMM), inverse dynamics, musculoskeletal modelling and finite element analysis to test the hypothesis that the most prevalent pathologies in animal feet occur in anatomical regions that experience the highest stresses during the mid-stance phase of locomotion. We provide our results from the application of this comparative approach to five species of hoofed mammals, ranging from pigs to elephants, to infer how foot form and function evolved, how body size relates to foot mechanics and what the consequences of foot structures and motions are for the risk of pathology.


In collaboration with Prof.Hutchinson and Dr. Rankin (The Royal Veterinary College)

  • Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Hutchinson JR. Comparative biomechanics and pathology of mammalian feet: an integrative 3D analysis. 10th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology Abstract Book S-062.

Foot pressure in large mammals during locomotion

Foot diseases are the main cause of mortality in captive large mammals however they are not very common in wild species. This study aims to unravel how captivity has altered foot function and led to pathogeneses.  I hypothesise that wild species have evolved efficient foot designs as adaptations to minimise pressures that can cause tissue damage. I also propose that obesity coupled with substrate properties, inefficient foot care, and lack of exercise upset the natural foot mechanics and lead to tissue disorders in captive animals. My study will create a novel predictive clinical foundation for foot disease and foot care in large mammals and will benefit their health and welfare.

In collaborations with Dr. Pataky (Shinshu University) and Prof. Hutchinson (The Royal Veterinary College)

  • Panagiotopoulou O, Pataky TC, Hill Z, Hutchinson JR (2012). Statistical parametric mapping of the regional distribution and ontogenetic scaling of foot pressures during walking in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Journal of Experimental Biology 215 1584-1593

Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat

Sperm whaleThis projects applies physical and structural properties of a male sperm whale to computer aided designed finite element models (CAD-FEA) to assess the mechanical function of the sperm whale forehead during ramming. In collaboration with Prof. Carrier (University of Utah) andDr. Spyridis (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Jaw mechanics and dynamics during feeding

My research in feeding mechanics seeks to determine the function of the non human primate chewing apparatus as it relates to dietary ecology, dental morphology and development in adulthood and during ontogeny.


The morphology of the lower jaw in non-human primate lineages displays considerable variation inter and intra-specifically. The cause of such variation is multifactorial, yet the functional adaptation of the lower jaw to different dietary categories is thought to be important. Whilst the biomechanical determinants of chewing kinematics and kinetics are important design parameters in the feeding system, poor understanding of those dynamics have made it difficult to address evolutionary and clinical hypotheses on functional mandibular anatomy and chewing mechanics.

Using in vivo experimental techniquesmaterial testingmusculoskeletal simulations and mathematical models I study how the modulation of muscle activity  influences the motion of the jaw and how this interaction affects the mechanics of the mandible and the dental tissues.

This exciting project is in collaboration with Dr. Jose-Iriarte Dias and Prof. Ross (University of Chicago), Dr. Wilshin (The Royal Veterinary College), Prof. Dechow (Baylor School of Dentisty) and Prof. Taylor (Duke University).