Faculty of Biological Sciences

Prof McNeill Alexander

CBE, MA, PhD, Cambridge; DSc, Wales, Hon DSc, Aberdeen; Dr.h.c, Wageningen, FIBiol, FRS, EAS,
Visiting Professor
School of Biology

Background: Secretary, Zoological Society of London 1992-9; President, Society for Experimental Biology 1995-7; President, International Society of Vertebrate Morphologists, 1997-2001; Editor, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 1998-2004.

Contact:  Manton 6.92, +44(0) 113 34 32911, email address for  

Research Interests

Mechanics of human and animal movement

Mechanics of human and animal locomotion, including:
  • The role of elastic mechanisms in running and jumping.
  • Scaling of structure and movement in animals
  • Mathematical modeling of walking, running and jumping.

Alexander R The gecko's foot. Bio-inspiration: Engineered from nature Nature 438 166-166, 2005

Alexander R Models and the scaling of energy costs for locomotion Journal of Experimental Biology 208 1645-1652, 2005
View abstract

Alexander R Bipedal animals, and their differences from humans Journal of Anatomy 204 321-330, 2004
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Alexander R Hitching a lift hydrodynamically--in swimming, flying and cycling. Journal of Biology 3 pp.7-, 2004
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Alexander R Chorus Line New Scientist 179 57-57, 2003

Alexander R Modelling approaches in biomechanics Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. B: Biological Sciences 358 1429-1435, 2003

Alexander R Walking tall New Scientist 179 53-53, 2003

Alexander R Principles of Animal Locomotion, 2003

Pike AVL, Alexander R The relationship between limb-segment proportions and joint kinematics for the hind limbs of quadrupedal mammals Journal of Zoology (London, 1987) 258 427-433, 2002
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Alexander R Energetics and optimization of human walking and running: The 2000 Raymond Pearl Memorial Lecture American Journal of Human Biology 14 641-648, 2002

Alexander R Stability and manoeuvrability of terrestrial vertebrates Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Comparative Physiology 42 158-164, 2002

Alexander R Tendon elasticity and muscle function Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Comparative Physiology 133 1001-1011, 2002

Alexander R The merits and implications of travel by swimming, flight and running by animals of different sizes Integrative and Comparative Biology 1060-1064, 2002

Alexander R Optimization: Design by numbers Nature 412 591-592, 2001

Alexander R Biomechanics: Damper for bad vibrations Nature 414 854-856, 2001

Alexander R Otto Egon Lowenstein Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 47 357-368, 2001

Alexander R Hovering and jumping: contrasting problems in scaling In Scaling in Biology , 2000

Alexander R Storage and release of elastic energy in the locomotor system and the stretch-shotening cycle In Biomechanics and Biology of Movement , 2000

Alexander R Optimization of muscles and movement for performance or economy of energy. Netherlands Journal of Zoology 50 101-112, 2000

Alexander R Walking and running strategies for humans and other mammals In Biomechanics in Animal Behaviour , 2000

Alexander R Energy-minimizing choices of muscles and patterns of movement Motor Control 4 45-47, 2000

Pike AVL, Ker RF, Alexander R The development of fatigue quality in high- and low-stressed tendons of sheep (Ovis aries). Journal of Experimental Biology 203 2187-2193, 2000

Alexander R Engineering approaches to chewing and digestion Science Progress 82 171-184, 1999

Papantoniou E, Avlakiotis P, Alexander R Control of a robot dinosaur Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences 354 863-868, 1999

Alexander R One price to run, swim or fly? Nature 397 651-653, 1999

Alexander R Energy for Animal Life, 1999

Alexander R Designed for action Biologist 46 61-64, 1999

Thorpe SKS, Crompton RH, Gunther MM, Ker RF, Alexander R Dimensions and moment arms of the hind-and forelimb muscles of common chipanzees (Pan troglodytes) American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 110 179-199, 1999

Alexander R, Farina RA, Vizcaino SF Tail blow energy and carapace fractures in a large glyptodont (Mammalia, Xenarthra) Linnean Society. Zoological Journal 126 41-49, 1999

Alexander R Elastic structures: their importance for human locomotion Journal of Physiology 506 5-6, 1998

Alexander R Muscle geometry Journal of Physiology 512 315-315, 1998

Alexander R Symmorphosis and safety factors In Principles of Animal Design: the Optimization and Symmorphosis Debate , 1998

Alexander R All-time giants: the largest animals and their problems Palaeontology 41 1231-1245, 1998

Alexander R Stresses in human leg muscles in running and jumping determined by force plate analysis and from published magnetic resonance images Journal of Experimental Biology 201 63-70, 1998

Alexander R When is migration worthwhile, for animals that run, swim or fly? Journal of Avian Biology 29 387-394, 1998

Alexander R News of chews: the optimization of mastication Nature 391 329-329, 1998

Alexander R Interaction of leg stiffness and surface stiffness during human hopping Journal of Applied Physiology 82 13-14, 1997

Alexander R A theory of metabolic costs for bipedal gaits Journal of Theoretical Biology 186 467-476, 1997

Alexander R A simple model for fast planar arm movements; optimising mechanical activation and moment-arms of uniarticular and biarticular arm muscles Journal of Theoretical Biology 184 187-201, 1997

Alexander R Leaning trees on sloping ground Nature 386 327-329, 1997

Alexander R Optimum muscle design for oscillatory movement Journal of Theoretical Biology 184 253-259, 1997

Alexander R Simple models of human locomotion Unknown Journal - Requested journal to be added to ULPD 2 129-135, 1997

Alexander R A theory of mixed chains applied to safety factors in biological systems Journal of Theoretical Biology 184 247-252, 1997

Alexander R A minimum energy cost hypothesis for human arm trajectories Biological Cybernetics 76 97-105, 1997

Alexander R Optimizing tendon compliance for cyclic movements Journal of Applied Biomechanics 13 416-418, 1997

Alexander R The U, J and L of bird flight Nature 390 13-13, 1997

Alexander R Segment inertial properties of primates: New techniques for laboratory and field studies of locomotion Unknown Journal - Requested journal to be added to ULPD 99 547-570, 1996

Alexander R Biophysical problems of small size in vertebrates Unknown Journal - Requested journal to be added to ULPD 69 3-14, 1996

Alexander R Hans Werner Lissmann 30 April 1909-21 April 1995 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 42 234-245, 1996

Alexander R Tendon elasticity and positional control Behavioural Brain Research 18 745-745, 1996

Alexander R Tyrannosaurus on the run Nature 379 121-121, 1996

Alexander R Characteristics of ground reaction forces in normal and chimpanzee-like bipedal walking by humans Folia Primatologica 66 137-159, 1996

Alexander R Smokescreen lifted on insect flight Nature 384 609-610, 1996

Wang XT, Ker RF, Alexander R Fatigue rupture of wallaby tail tendons Journal of Experimental Biology 198 847-852, 1995
View abstract

Alexander R The mechanical properties of the human heel pad: a paradox resolved. J Biomechan 1299-1308., 1995

Alexander R Leg design and jumping technique for humans, other vertebrates and insects Phil Trans Roy Soc B 347 235-248., 1995

Alexander R The synchronisation of ventilation and locomotion in horses (Equus caballus). J exp Biol 166 19-31., 1992

Alexander R A model of bipedal locomotion on compliant legs Phil Trans Roy Soc B 338 189-198., 1992