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

The utility of anterior femoral curvature as an indicator of mobility


Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Anterior femoral curvature (AFC) has recently been proposed as a biomechanical indicator of terrestrial logistic mobility. Initially suggested as a forensic technique for racial identification, several analyses have demonstrated patterns of decreasing femoral curvature through time, consistent with expectations of decreased mobility during the transition to sedentism. Consensus for why AFC would vary with mobility is lacking, and attempts to correlate AFC with other behavioral indicators have yielded weak results. We investigated this relationship by examining the correlation between AFC and cross-sectional geometry using 50 femora from the Campbell Site (23PM5), a Late Mississippian site located in southeastern Missouri. Latex casts and biplanar radiographs of the femoral mid-shafts were taken to determine cross-sectional properties, while position and amount of maximum curvature was measured using chord length and a millimeter grid. Femoral head diameter and bone length were used to standardize for body mass. Our results indicate that a relationship exists between body-size corrected bowing index and femoral anteroposterior bending strength (Ix) and maximum bending strength (Imax). We also demonstrate that AFC and cross-sectional geometry present similar results for investigations of the sexual division of labor. This project enhances our current understanding of AFC as an indicator of mobility, and indicates that it is useful as part of a multiple-indicators approach to reconstruction of prehistoric patterns of mobility.

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