The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Femoral bone growth and the relationship with stable isotope values: Preliminary results


School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury. UK.

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Differences in the way that bone processes nitrogen and carbon may reveal something about bone growth. Long bone growth in modern human adults can vary from the inner cortex nearest the medullary cavity to the outer cortical bone layer. One influence on bone growth in adulthood is activity and in archaeological samples this can be inferred from bone robusticity. This study compares isotope values from the inner and outer bone cortex in an archaeological sample of modern humans. The age-matched male humans were subdivided into two groups, gracile and robust (n=4), based upon cortical thickness measurements and muscle markings.

Femoral bone samples were taken from the inner cortex near the medullary cavity and the outer cortical layer, near the outer surface. Standard isotopic methods based on a modified Login 1981 method were used. Preliminary results show that robust and gracile individuals have a similar percentage of carbon and nitrogen in the inner cortex. However, there is a greater percentage of nitrogen and carbon in the outer layer of the robust individuals (%N =11.7; %C = 37.2) compared to the gracile individuals (%N = 9.7 %; %C = 29.3). Results are discussed in terms of sampling protocol for isotope studies and the uptake of carbon and nitrogen in bone.

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