Daniel O Schmitt
  • Daniel O Schmitt

  • Professor
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • 203 Biological Sciences Building
  • Campus Box 3170
  • Homepage
  • Secondary web page
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Overview

    Daniel Schmitt's uses laboratory techniques to study biomechanics of vertebrate locomotion with a focus on mammals in general and nonhuman primates and humans specifically. His research focuses on general functional anatomy, evolutionary aspects of limb anatomy and gait choice, the evolution of primate locomotion, and human musculoskeletal health. His work is support by the NIH and NSF.
  • Bio

    Daniel Schmitt earned a B.s. in Organismal Biology and Anatomy from Yale University in 1987. He earned a Masters Degree (1992) and PhD (1995) in Anthropogy at SUNY Stony Brook. He came to Duke in 1994 as a Research Associate to teach anatomy and do research. He is now of Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and teaches human anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics.
  • Specialties

    • Functional Anatomy
    • Primate Paleontology & Morphology
  • Research Description

    My primary interest is in the evolution of primate locomotion. I am interested in understanding the selective factors that govern limb design, gait choice, and locomotor mechanics. I am studying the mechanics of movement in primates and other vertebrates in the laboratory to understand the relationship between movement and postcranial morphology, and the unique nature of primates among other mammals. Current projects include the origins of locomotion and the evolution of vertebrate bipedalism. My other interests are in human musculosketal health and injury. I study rodent and human models of bone and joint disease. Click here to enter the Animal Locomotion Laboratory web site to learn more.
  • Current Projects

    Primate locomotor mechanics, Evolution of primate locomotion, Rodent and humn models of bone and joint disease
  • Areas of Interest

    Functional Anatomy
  • Education

      • PhD,
      • Anthropology,
      • State University of New York at Stony Brook,
      • 1995
      • MS,
      • Anthropology,
      • State University of New York at Stony Brook,
      • 1995
      • BS,
      • Organismal Biology and Anatomy,
      • Yale University,
      • 1987
  • Recent Publications

      • MC Granatosky, P Lemelin, SG Chester, JD Pampush, D Schmitt.
      • 2013.
      • Functional and evolutionary aspects of axial stability in euarchontans and other mammals..
      • Journal of morphology
      • .
      Publication Description


      • NL Griffin, C Miller, D Schmitt, K D'Août.
      • 2013.
      • An investigation of the dynamic relationship between navicular drop and first metatarsophalangeal joint dorsal excursion..
      • Journal of anatomy
      • 222:
      • 598-607
      • .
      Publication Description

      The modern human foot is a complex biomechanical structure that must act both as a shock absorber and as a propulsive strut during the stance phase of gait. Understanding the ways in which foot segments interact can illuminate the mechanics of foot function in healthy and pathological humans. It has been proposed that increased values of medial longitudinal arch deformation can limit metatarsophalangeal joint excursion via tension in the plantar aponeurosis. However, this model has not been tested directly in a dynamic setting. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that during the stance phase, subtalar pronation (stretching of the plantar aponeurosis and subsequent lowering of the medial longitudinal arch) will negatively affect the amount of first metatarsophalangeal joint excursion occurring at push-off. Vertical descent of the navicular (a proxy for subtalar pronation) and first metatarsophalangeal joint dorsal excursion were measured during steady locomotion over a flat substrate on a novel sample consisting of asymptomatic adult males and females, many of whom are habitually unshod. Least-squares regression analyses indicated that, contrary to the hypothesis, navicular drop did not explain a significant amount of variation in first metatarsophalangeal joint dorsal excursion. These results suggest that, in an asymptomatic subject, the plantar aponeurosis and the associated foot bones can function effectively within the normal range of subtalar pronation that takes place during walking gait. From a clinical standpoint, this study highlights the need for investigating the in vivo kinematic relationship between subtalar pronation and metatarsophalangeal joint dorsiflexion in symptomatic populations, and also the need to explore other factors that may affect the kinematics of asymptomatic feet.

      • TJ Somers, JA Blumenthal, F Guilak, VB Kraus, DO Schmitt, MA Babyak, LW Craighead, DS Caldwell, JR Rice, DC McKee, RA Shelby, LC Campbell, JJ Pells, EL Sims, R Queen, JW Carson, M Connelly, KE Dixon, LJ Lacaille, JL Huebner, WJ Rejeski, FJ Keefe.
      • 2012.
      • Pain coping skills training and lifestyle behavioral weight management in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled study..
      • Pain
      • 153:
      • 1199-209
      • .
      Publication Description

      Overweight and obese patients with osteoarthritis (OA) experience more OA pain and disability than patients who are not overweight. This study examined the long-term efficacy of a combined pain coping skills training (PCST) and lifestyle behavioral weight management (BWM) intervention in overweight and obese OA patients. Patients (n=232) were randomized to a 6-month program of: 1) PCST+BWM; 2) PCST-only; 3) BWM-only; or 4) standard care control. Assessments of pain, physical disability (Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales [AIMS] physical disability, stiffness, activity, and gait), psychological disability (AIMS psychological disability, pain catastrophizing, arthritis self-efficacy, weight self-efficacy), and body weight were collected at 4 time points (pretreatment, posttreatment, and 6 months and 12 months after the completion of treatment). Patients randomized to PCST+BWM demonstrated significantly better treatment outcomes (average of all 3 posttreatment values) in terms of pain, physical disability, stiffness, activity, weight self-efficacy, and weight when compared to the other 3 conditions (Ps

      • MC O'Neill, D Schmitt.
      • 2012.
      • The gaits of primates: center of mass mechanics in walking, cantering and galloping ring-tailed lemurs, Lemur catta..
      • The Journal of experimental biology
      • 215:
      • 1728-39
      • .
      Publication Description

      Most primates, including lemurs, have a broad range of locomotor capabilities, yet much of the time, they walk at slow speeds and amble, canter or gallop at intermediate and fast speeds. Although numerous studies have investigated limb function during primate quadrupedalism, how the center of mass (COM) moves is not well understood. Here, we examined COM energy, work and power during walking, cantering and galloping in ring-tailed lemurs, Lemur catta (N=5), over a broad speed range (0.43-2.91 m s(-1)). COM energy recoveries were substantial during walking (35-71%) but lower during canters and gallops (10-51%). COM work, power and collisional losses increased with speed. The positive COM works were 0.625 J kg(-1) m(-1) for walks and 1.661 J kg(-1) m(-1) for canters and gallops, which are in the middle range of published values for terrestrial animals. Although some discontinuities in COM mechanics were evident between walking and cantering, there was no apparent analog to the trot-gallop transition across the intermediate and fast speed range (dimensionless v>0.75, Fr>0.5). A phenomenological model of a lemur cantering and trotting at the same speed shows that canters ensure continuous contact of the body with the substrate while reducing peak vertical COM forces, COM stiffness and COM collisions. We suggest that cantering, rather than trotting, at intermediate speeds may be tied to the arboreal origins of the Order Primates. These data allow us to better understand the mechanics of primate gaits and shed new light on primate locomotor evolution.

      • C. Workman and D.Schmitt.
      • 2012.
      • Positional behavior of Delacour’s langurs (Trachypithecus delacouri) in northern Vietnam.
      • International Journal of primatology
      • 33:
      • 19 - 37
      • .
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  • Search Publications
  • Selected Grants

    • “Gait Mechanics in primate and Nonprimate quadrupeds”
      • Agency: NSF
    • “Effects of Myostatin Deficiency on Bone Strength”
      • Agency: NIH
  • Postdoctoral Students

    • Roxanne Larsen
      • 2012 - present
    • Angel Zeininger
      • 2012 - present
    • Karyne Rabey
      • 2012 - present
    • Jennifer Hotzman
      • 2011 - 2012
    • Charlottte Miller
      • 2010 - present
    • Siobhan Cooke
      • 2010 - 2012
    • Griffin Nicole
      • 2009 - 2011
    • Sara Doyle
      • 2009 - present
    • Carrie Carreno
      • 2009 - 2012
    • Tracy Kivell
      • 2007 - 2009
    • Kristin Bishop
      • 2006 - 2006
    • Ann Zumwalt
      • 2005 - 2007
    • Ershela Sims
      • 2004 - 2010
    • Tim Griffin
      • 2001 - 2005
  • PhD Students