Collaborative Research: Trabecular bone ontogeny and locomotor development in humans and non-human primates

Project: Research project

Project Details


Analyses of bone structure in living and extinct primates typically assume a direct relationship between bone form and function even though the mechanisms of bone's adaptive response to loads is not fully understood. The primary objective of this project is collecting comparative age-related data on the development of bone from a number of locations in the postcranial skeleton of humans, chimpanzees, and macaques to test an explanatory model for the patterns of change associated with locomotor development in these species. This project quantifies the changes in trabecular bone microstructure and elastic properties during ontogeny in humans, chimpanzees, and macaques using high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scan data in the postcranial skeleton. The relative contributions of locomotor loading, body mass, sex, and age on the development of trabecular and cortical bone structure are examined, as are kinematic and kinetic analyses of locomotor ontogeny in a sample of juvenile modern humans to relate structural changes to changes in locomotion in humans. By quantifying the ontogenetic changes in bone structure across three different primates with divergent locomotor behaviors and developmental trajectories, the role of general developmental processes, genetic patterning, and the mechanical loading environment on bone structure are more clearly defined. The simultaneous analysis of locomotor development, bone structural and mechanical adaptations, and within and between species variation is unique and produces a more concrete understanding of bone functional morphology. Ultimately, this study will provide insight into the adaptive response of trabecular bone to mechanical loads and will provide important information regarding the functional utility of trabecular bone structure in the mammalian skeleton.

This study contributes to the training of undergraduate and graduate students at three universities, results in the production of a large comparative dataset of high-resolution CT and kinematic data for use by other researchers and for incorporation into the biological anthropology curriculum, has direct relevance for understanding the normal and pathological locomotor system in children and adults and will be of broad interest in orthopedics, internal medicine, bone metabolism, and biomechanics, and, finally, the results of this study will also contribute relevant data to the understanding of the prevalent health conditions of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Effective start/end date10/1/1012/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $401,180.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.