Functional morphology of proximal hindlimb muscles in the frog Rana pipiens. Academic Article uri icon


  • Musculoskeletal models have become important tools in understanding motor control issues ranging from how muscles power movement to how sensory feedback supports movements. In the present study, we developed the initial musculotendon subsystem of a realistic model of the frog Rana pipiens. We measured the anatomical properties of 13 proximal muscles in the frog hindlimb and incorporated these measurements into a set of musculotendon actuators. We examined whether the interaction between this musculotendon subsystem and a previously developed skeleton/joint subsystem captured the passive behavior of the real frog's musculoskeletal system. To do this, we compared the moment arms of musculotendon complexes measured experimentally with moment arms predicted by the model. We also compared sarcomere lengths measured experimentally at the starting and take-off positions of a jump with sarcomere lengths predicted by the model at these same limb positions. On the basis of the good fit of the experimental data, we used the model to describe the multi-joint mechanical effects produced by contraction of each hindlimb muscle and to predict muscle trajectories during a range of limb behaviors (wiping, defensive kicking, swimming and jumping). Through these analyses, we show that all hindlimb muscles have multiple functions with respect to accelerating the limb in its three-dimensional workspace and that the balance of functions depends greatly on limb configuration. In addition, we show that muscles have multiple, task-specific functions with respect to the type of contraction performed. The results of this study provide important data regarding the multifunctional role of hindlimb muscles in the frog and form a foundation upon which additional model subsystems (e.g. neural) and more sophisticated muscle models can be appended.

publication date

  • July 2002