Unique suites of trabecular bone features characterize locomotor behavior in human and non-human anthropoid primates

Timothy M. Ryan, Colin N. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Understanding the mechanically-mediated response of trabecular bone to locomotion-specific loading patterns would be of great benefit to comparative mammalian evolutionary morphology. Unfortunately, assessments of the correspondence between individual trabecular bone features and inferred behavior patterns have failed to reveal a strong locomotion-specific signal. This study assesses the relationship between inferred locomotor activity and a suite of trabecular bone structural features that characterize bone architecture. High-resolution computed tomography images were collected from the humeral and femoral heads of 115 individuals from eight anthropoid primate genera (Alouatta, Homo, Macaca, Pan, Papio, Pongo, Trachypithecus, Symphalangus). Discriminant function analyses reveal that subarticular trabecular bone in the femoral and humeral heads is significantly different among most locomotor groups. The results indicate that when a suite of femoral head trabecular features is considered, trabecular number and connectivity density, together with fabric anisotropy and the relative proportion of rods and plates, differentiate locomotor groups reasonably well. A similar, yet weaker, relationship is also evident in the trabecular architecture of the humeral head. The application of this multivariate approach to analyses of trabecular bone morphology in recent and fossil primates may enhance our ability to reconstruct locomotor behavior in the fossil record.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere41037
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 18 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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