The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Patterns of entheseal changes in modern humans and African great apes


Anthropological Institute & Museum, University of Zurich

Thursday 8:00-8:15, 200ABC Add to calendar

Research on entheseal changes (EC) in humans have demonstrated the relevant role of age and sex in the expression of these features, suggesting the potential usefulness of EC in studies of life history. EC have, however, been scarcely investigated in non-human primates and mostly from a functional perspective. As a consequence, no data are available on the ontogeny of entheses in extant hominids. Here, we fill this gap by comparing patterns of aging and sexual dimorphism in EC in a skeletal sample including modern humans (N=484; known age and sex), Pan troglodytes / paniscus (N=48) and Gorilla gorilla (N=42). The African great ape sample comprises adults and juveniles (erupted M2) with documented sex and for which age was estimated on the basis of tooth wear. 23 postcranial entheses were scored according to Mariotti et al. (2004, 2007) for the development of entheseal robusticity (surface rugosity) and proliferative as well as resorptive changes. We tested the hypothesis that differences in longevity and post-reproductive life span together with distinct locomotor patterns lead to different EC patterns among taxa. Results evidence: (a) a significant influence of age on EC in all taxa; (b) taxon-specific age- and sex-related patterns; (c) taxon-specific patterns of bilateral asymmetry and upper/lower limb ratios in EC. Altogether, our results highlight derived processes of aging of the musculoskeletal system in modern humans compared to great apes.

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