Date of Award


Degree Type



Biomedical Engineering

Director of Thesis

Dr. Abdel Bayoumi

Second Reader

Hope Holt


Specific to captive BFFs, the most significant changes in cranial morphology are related to an increase in zygomatic arch width. The zygomatic arch region is the area along which the masseter muscle (a critical muscle of mastication for carnivores) is stretched3 . Mechanical stability of muscular tissues has been shown to be closely related to the structural integrity of the surrounding bones. In mice, mechanical unloading of the hind legs has been shown to induce muscular atrophy, which led to increased porosity and fragmentation in the femur and tibia4. As less force is required for a captive ferret to fully masticate softer diets, researchers have hypothesized that the relative “mechanical unloading” has led to an underdevelopment of the masseter muscle, which has in turn caused cranial morphological changes such as widening of the zygomatic arch3 .

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