Hindlimb lateral and medial acropodial series of cattle are uneven in form


  • Pere M. Parés-Casanova Department of Animal ScienceETSEAUniversity of Lleida http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1440-6418
  • Kirian Narcís Jones Capdevila University of Lleida
  • Laura Castel Mas University of Lleida




digital bones, fluctuating asymmetry, locomotion, Pyrenean Brown cattle


In bovines, fore and hind lateral claws are larger than the medial claws and the heel are deeper and the sole thicker. On this anatomical basis, we hypothesized that it must imply a form (size+shape) asymmetry of the digits. To test this hypothesis, we studied the acropodiums (digital series) of 15 young bovines belonging to Brown Pyrenean breed, irrespective of the gender. Dorso-plantar radiographies were obtained for each hindlimb and the form was studied in a sample of 30 hindlimbs (15 right and 15 left). Images were studied by geometric morphometric methods. A set of 7 paired landmarks on medial and lateral digital series and one axial landmark was used for the study. Lateral and medial digits were uneven both in size and shape, expressing both fluctuating and directional asymmetries. Directional asymmetries would suggest a different function in weight bearing. We hypothesize lateral digits serve to stabilize the centre of gravity to a greater extent than medial digits. These findings prompt careful reassessment of the function of each of the digital series during standing and during locomotion in future researches.


ALADOS CL et al. 2001. Translational and fluctuating asymmetry as tools to detect stress-adapted and nonadapted plants. International Journal of Plant Science 162: 607-616.

ANGELOPOULOU MV et al. 2009. Fluctuating molar asymmetry in relation to environmental radioactivity. Archives of Oral Biology 54: 666-670.

AUERBACH BM & RUFF CB. 2006. Limb bone bilateral asymmetry: Variability and commonality among modern humans. Journal of Human Evolution 50: 203-218.

AUFFRAY JC et al. 1999. Shape asymmetry and developmental stability. In: MARK JCM et al. (Ed.). On growth and form: spatio-temporal pattern formation in biology. Nova Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. p.309-324.

BARONE R. 1999. Anatomie Comparée des mamifères domestiques. Tome 1. Ostéologie. Paris: Vigot. 761p.

BARTOSIEWICZ L et al. 1993. Metapodial asymmetry in draft cattle. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 3: 69-75.

BERNS CM. 2013. The Evolution of Sexual Dimorphism: Understanding Mechanisms of Sexual Shape Differences. In: MORIYAMA H. (Ed.). Sexual Dimorphism. Londres: IntechOpen. p.1-15.

BETEG F et al. 2007. Lameness, Hoof Care and Functional Trimming in Cows - an Actual Review. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca - Veterinary Medicine 64: 359-364.

BLACKBURN A. 2011. Bilateral asymmetry of the humerus during growth and development. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 145: 639-646.

BOOKSTEIN FL. 1991. Morphometric Tools for Landmark Data: Geometry and Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

CARTER AJR et al. 2009. Heritability of Directional Asymmetry in Drosophila melanogaster. International Journal of Evolutionary Biology 1-7.

CERVENY C. 1985. Anatomical Characteristics on the Ossa Sesamoidea Phalangis Proximalis in Cattle (Bos primigenius F. taurus Linné 1758). Acta Veterinaria Brno 54: 3-22.

COSTA M et al. 2015. Constant fluctuating asymmetry but not directional asymmetry along the geographic distribution of Drosophila antonietae (Diptera, Drosophilidae). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 59: 337-342.

EBLING RC et al. 2019. Prevalence and distribution of feet lesions in dairy cows raised in the freestall. Semina: Ciências Agrárias 40: 239-248.

GINOT S et al. 2018. Bite Force Performance, Fluctuating Asymmetry and Antisymmetry in the Mandible of Inbred and Outbred Wild-Derived Strains of Mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Evolutionary Biology 45: 287-302.

GRAHAM JH et al. 1993. Antisymmetry, directional asymmetry, and dynamic morphogenesis. Genetica 89: 121-137.

HAMMER Ø et al. 2001. PAST v. 2.17c. Palaeontologia Electronica 4: 1-229.

KLINGENBERG CP. 2011. MorphoJ: An integrated software package for geometric morphometrics. Molecular Ecology Resources 11: 353-357.

KLINGENBERG CP. 2015. Analyzing fluctuating asymmetry with geometric morphometrics: concepts, methods and applications. Symmetry 7: 843-934.

KUBICKA AM et al. 2018. Bilateral asymmetry of the humerus in Neandertals, Australian aborigines and medieval humans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 167: 46-60.

MAIERL J et al. 2002. A method of biomechanical testing the suspensory apparatus of the third phalanx in cattle: a technical note. Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia 31: 321-325.

MANCINI S et al. 2005. Detection of symmetry and anti-symmetry. Vision Research 45: 2145-2160.

MITTEROECKER P & GUNZ P. 2009. Advances in Geometric morphometrics. Evolutionary Biology 36: 235-247.

MUGGLIA E et al. 2011. Length asymmetry of the bovine digits. The Veterinary Journal 188: 295-300.

OCAL MK et al. 2004. A quantitative study on the digital bones of cattle. Annals of Anatomy 186: 165-168.

ROHLF FJ. 2010. Digitalized Landmarks and Outlines (2.26). New York: State University of New York.

ROHLF FJ. 2015a. The tps series of software. Hystrix 26: 9-12.

ROHLF FJ. 2015b. TpsSmall v. 1.33. software.

SFORZA C et al. 1998. Foot asymmetry in healthy adults: Elliptic fourier analysis of standardized footprints. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 16: 758-765.

WILSON GH et al. 2009. Skeletal forelimb measurements and hoof spread in relation to asymmetry in the bilateral forelimb. Equine Veterinary Journal 41: 238-241.






Research Article - Science of Animals and Derived Products