Mechanical determinants of bone form: Insights from skeletal remains

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Analysis of skeletal remains from humans living in the past forms an important complement to observational and experimental studies of living humans and animal models. Including earlier humans in such analyses increases the range of variation in both behavior and body size and shape that are represented, and can provide insights into the adaptive potential of the modern human skeleton. I review here a variety of studies of archaeological and paleontological remains that have investigated differences in skeletal structure from a mechanical perspective, focusing in particular on diaphyseal strength of the limb bones. Several conclusions can be drawn from these studies: 1) there has been a decline in overall skeletal strength relative to body size over the course of human evolution that has become progressively steeper in recent millennia, probably due to increased sedentism and technological advancement; 2) differences in pelvic structure and hip mechanical loadings affect femoral shape; 3) activity patterns affect overall strength and shape of both the lower and upper limb bones; and 4) responsiveness to changes in mechanical loading varies between skeletal features (e.g., articulations versus diaphyses) and by age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-212
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Neuronal Interactions
Volume5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Mechanics
  • Paleontology
  • Skeleton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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