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

Hard tissue research on Sub-Saharan Africans of known life history


1Department of Biomaterials and Biomimetics, New York University College of Dentistry, NY, USA, 2Department of Anthropology, Long Island University, NY, USA, 3Department of Anthropology, New York University, NY, USA, 4Department of Anatomy, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi

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We are collecting skeletal samples of sub-Saharan Africans of Bantu origin and known life history derived from the University of Malawi College of Medicine (UMCOM) to test hypotheses regarding microanatomical concomitants of human body size variation and to establish the first publicly accessible bone and tooth tissue bank of sub-Saharan Africans of known life history. Bone and tooth tissues are acquired from the thigh and leg (midshaft femur and tibia/fibula), foot (3rd metatarsal), arm and forearm (midshaft humerus and radius/ulna), hand (3rd metacarpal), vertebral column (3rd lumbar vertebra), rib cage (midshaft 6th rib), and lower jaw (one half-mandible); the sampling of many skeletal locations will permit a more thorough evaluation of histocompositional variability. For each cadaver UMCOM staff administer a questionnaire to next of kin, in which medical, social, economic and life history information is sought, offering the possibility to interpret the long-range effects of environment, diet, and lifestyle for studies in fields that have links to sociocultural, archaeological, and biological anthropology—e.g., medical anthropology, paleoanthropology, auxology, forensic osteology, and human ecology. To date, 20 adolescent-young adult individuals have been sampled; we expect to sample 100 individuals by 2014. Preliminary results of the effects of the environment on bone structure will be presented, and we will provide public online links to images, data, and information concerning open access to study materials.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-1062680) and by Max Planck Society and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation support of the Hard Tissue Research Program in Human Paleobiomics.

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