Advances and Challenges in Paleobiological Reconstructions of Joint Mobility

Integr Comp Biol. 2022 Mar 15;icac008. doi: 10.1093/icb/icac008. Online ahead of print.


Paleobiological reconstructions of joint mobility are an essential component of functional analyses of extinct animals. Over the past half-decade, the methods underlying mobility studies have advanced rapidly in three main areas: increasing complexity of virtual joint manipulation, formalizing pose viability criteria, and constructing more rigorous quantitative frameworks. Here we contextualize and review the recent history of this field, and call attention to remaining challenges and potential future directions. Additionally, we make available and describe a set of user-friendly scripts for the animation software Autodesk Maya. In doing so, we aim to make many of the latest approaches for virtual mobility reconstruction more easily accessible to other researchers, encouraging their broader adoption and collaborative improvement.

Keywords: functional morphology; joints; range of motion; vertebrate paleontology.