Trabecular bone structure in the humeral and femoral heads of anthropoid primates

Timothy M. Ryan, Alan Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The functional significance of three-dimensional trabecular bone architecture in the primate postcranial skeleton has received significant interest over the last decade. Some previous work has produced promising results, finding significant relationships between femoral head trabecular bone structure and hypothesized locomotor loading in leaping and nonleaping strepsirrhines. Conversely, most studies of anthropoid femoral head bone structure have found broad similarity across taxonomic and locomotor groups. The goal of this study is to expand on past analyses of anthropoid trabecular bone structure by assessing the effects of differential limb usage on the trabecular bone architecture of the forelimb and hindlimb across taxa characterized by diverse locomotor behaviors, including brachiation, quadrupedalism, and climbing. High-resolution x-ray computed tomography scans were collected from the proximal humerus and proximal femur of 55 individuals from five anthropoid primate species, including Symphalangus syndactylus, Papio sp., Presbytis rubicunda, Alouatta caraya, and Pan troglodytes. Trabecular bone structural features including bone volume fraction, anisotropy, trabecular thickness, and trabecular number were quantified in large volumes positioned in the center of the humeral or femoral head. Femoral head trabecular bone volume is consistently and significantly higher than trabecular bone volume in the humerus in all taxa independent of locomotor behavior. Humeral trabecular bone is more isotropic than femoral trabecular bone in all species sampled, possibly reflecting the emphasis on a mobile shoulder joint and manipulative forelimb. The results indicate broad similarity in trabecular bone structure in these bones across anthropoids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-729
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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