Comparison of the structure and mechanical properties of bovine femur bone and antler of the North American elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis)
Antler and limb bone have a similar microstructure and chemical composition. Both are primarily composed of type I collagen and a mineral phase (carbonated apatite), arranged in osteons in compact (cortical bone) sections and a lamellar structure in the cancellous (spongy or trabecular bone) sections. The mineral content is lower in antler bone and it has a core of cancellous bone surrounded by compact bone running through the main beam and tines. The mineral content is higher in the compact compared with the cancellous bone, although there is no difference in ratios of the mineral elements with calcium. Mechanical tests (bend and compression) on longitudinal and transverse orientations of dry and rehydrated compact bone of North American elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) antlers are compared with known data on other antlers as well as bovine femora. Both dry and rehydrated bones are highly anisotropic, with the bending and compressive strength and elastic modulus higher in the longitudinal than in the transverse direction. There is no significant difference between the bend strength and elastic modulus between dry and rehydrated samples tested in the transverse direction. The elastic modulus measured from the bending tests is compared with composite models. The elastic modulus and bend strengths are lower in the rehydrated condition, but the strain to failure and fracture toughness is much higher compared with dry samples. All antler bone mechanical properties are lower than that of bovine femora. The antler has a much higher fracture toughness compared with bovine femora, which correlates with their main function in intraspecific combat as a high impact resistant, energy absorbent material. A model of compression deformation is proposed, which is based on osteon sliding during shear.
Journal: Acta Biomaterialia - Volume 5, Issue 2, February 2009, Pages 693–706