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

Phylogenetic and locomotor signals in the primate bony pelvis- a multivariate approach


Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University

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The primate bony pelvis has been an important target for comparative anatomists over the past century, particularly in the investigation of locomotion. In spite of this fact, few studies approach bony pelvic anatomy from the perspective of multivariate analysis. Here a multivariate approach examines pelvic variation across both suborders of Primates, encompassing the full range of extant locomotor regimes. The aim of this work was to examine the relationship between anatomical variation, locomotor mode, and phylogeny. Measurements of 15 pelvic variables were collected on 258 specimens, representing 43 primate species. Principal component analysis resulted in 80% of the variation within the pelvis being accounted for by the first three principal components (PC). PC 1 loaded positively with iliac breadth and ischial tuberosity measurements, and negatively with iliac height. PC 2 loaded positively with iliac breadth and negatively with ischial tuberosity measurements and pubic symphysis length. PC 3 loaded positively with lower iliac breadth, breadth of the iliac tuberosity, and pubic symphysis length, and negatively with superior iliac breadth and ischial tuberosity measurements. These results suggest that PC 1 and 2 account more for the effects of phylogeny, rather than functional adaptation to locomotor regime, while PC 3 seems to be more indicative of pelvic locomotor adaptation. PC 3 groups the great apes and lorisids, suggesting an adaptation to the flexibility necessary for climbing. The results of this analysis have interesting applications to studies of fossil primates, suggesting that a knowledge of phylogeny is necessary for interpreting locomotor anatomy.

This study was funded by a Bigel Endowment Grant, a Zelnick Research Award, and the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies at Rutgers University.

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