Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) locomotion: forelimb joint mechanics across speed in the sagittal and frontal planes

Catherine Shine, Charles T Robbins, O Lynne Nelson, Craig P McGowan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

1 Citation (Scopus)


The majority of terrestrial locomotion studies have focused on parasagittal motion and paid less attention to forces or movement in the frontal plane. Our previous research has shown that grizzly bears produce higher medial ground reaction forces (lateral pushing from the animal) than would be expected for an upright mammal, suggesting frontal plane movement may be an important aspect of their locomotion. To examine this, we conducted an inverse dynamics analysis in the sagittal and frontal planes, using ground reaction forces and position data from three high-speed cameras of four adult female grizzly bears. Over the speed range collected, the bears used walks, running walks and canters. The scapulohumeral joint, wrist and the limb overall absorb energy (average total net work of the forelimb joints, -0.97 W kg-1). The scapulohumeral joint, elbow and total net work of the forelimb joints have negative relationships with speed, resulting in more energy absorbed by the forelimb at higher speeds (running walks and canters). The net joint moment and power curves maintain similar patterns across speed as in previously studied species, suggesting grizzly bears maintain similar joint dynamics to other mammalian quadrupeds. There is no significant relationship with net work and speed at any joint in the frontal plane. The total net work of the forelimb joints in the frontal plane was not significantly different from zero, suggesting that, despite the high medial ground reaction forces, the forelimb acts as a strut in that plane.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1329
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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