Modeling articulations Design Pattern

Chris Mungall edited this page Jul 10, 2013 · 2 revisions

Representation of joints/articulations

Authors and contributors:

  • Chris Mungall (author)
  • Wasila Dahdul (author)
  • Melissa Haendel (author)

Date: 2013

Document Type: ontology_design_pattern


Joints or articulations are structures that connect the elements of the skeletal system, or more generally, any articulated hardended body parts.

We include a grouping class articulation, which is applicable to the joints of a variety of metazoans, including insects, and skeletal joint, which is specific to the skeletal elements of vertabrates.

  • articulation -- any hardened body parts
    • skeletal joint -- parts of the skeletal system

A skeletal joint is the disjoint union of synovial and non-synovial forms - i.e. the following subhierarchy is jointly exhaustive and pairwise disjoint

  • skeletal joint
    • synovial joint
    • nonsynovial joint

We do not require that every skeletal joint is asserted under one of these two subclasses.


Design Pattern

We use the connects relationship type to link between a joint and two (or more) skeletal elements (or other hardened body parts).

Note that we do not require a relationship to be stated between a body part and a joint - this is allowed, but care should be taken, as connectivity varies across taxa. For example, the quadrate-articular joint always connects a quadrate and an articular by definition. However, an articular is not always connected to a quadrate.

The template that should be followed is:

  Class: 'X-Y joint'
  EquivalentTo: `skeletal joint` AND
   connects some X AND
   connects some Y

(the genus term can be relaxed for non-vertebrates)


We can use the connects relationships to infer a connection between skeletal elements, but only in taxa for which that joint exists.

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