Modern three-dimensional digital methods for studying locomotor biomechanics in tetrapods.
Here, we review the modern interface of three-dimensional (3D) empirical (e.g. motion capture) and theoretical (e.g. modelling and simulation) approaches to the study of terrestrial locomotion using appendages in tetrapod vertebrates. These tools span a spectrum from more empirical approaches such as XROMM, to potentially more intermediate approaches such as finite element analysis, to more theoretical approaches such as dynamic musculoskeletal simulations or conceptual models. These methods have much in common beyond the importance of 3D digital technologies, and are powerfully synergistic when integrated, opening a wide range of hypotheses that can be tested. We discuss the pitfalls and challenges of these 3D methods, leading to consideration of the problems and potential in their current and future usage. The tools (hardware and software) and approaches (e.g. methods for using hardware and software) in the 3D analysis of tetrapod locomotion have matured to the point where now we can use this integration to answer questions we could never have tackled 20 years ago, and apply insights gleaned from them to other fields.
Peer reviewed: True
Funder: The Royal Veterinary College