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6.6: The Girdles

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  • The girdles pass on the “push” produced by the limbs to the body. The shoulder girdle or scapula is a triangle of bone surrounded by the muscles of the back but not connected directly to the spine (see diagram 6.1). This arrangement helps it to cushion the body when landing after a leap and gives the forelimbs the flexibility to manipulate food or strike at prey. Animals that use their forelimbs for grasping, burrowing or climbing have a well-developed clavicle or collar bone. This connects the shoulder girdle to the sternum. Animals like sheep, horses and cows that use their forelimbs only for supporting the body and locomotion have no clavicle. The pelvic girdle or hipbone attaches the sacrum and the hind legs. It transmits the force of the leg-thrust in walking or jumping directly to the spine (see diagram 6.10).

    Anatomy and physiology of animals Pelvic girdle.jpg

    Diagram 6.10 - The pelvic girdle

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Ruth Lawson (Otago Polytechnic; Dunedin, New Zealand)