The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Investigating the extent to which entheseal changes reflect bone remodeling at the modern human femoral midshaft


1School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, 2Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 3Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan

March 27, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

The principles underlying bone functional adaptation are well established, although recent studies suggest that the bone-tendon-muscle relationship may be more complex than originally thought. Anthropologists examine the morphology of “muscle markers” or entheses to infer behavior, but the extent to which entheseal change reflects the underlying bone remodeling remains largely unexplored. Here, a classic muscle marker scoring method is evaluated using histomorphometry on a large medieval human archaeological sample from Canterbury, UK.

Adult femora (n = 441) were grouped into different (absent, hypertrophy, stress lesion) adductor longus (AL) and adductor magnus (AM) entheseal categories. Intact, fragmentary, and osteon population densities, as well as osteon area, Haversian canal area and diameter, and osteocyte lacunae density were recorded in sections removed from the midshaft linea aspera region and compared across the entheseal categories using univariate inferential statistics.

The histology variables did not consistently correspond with outer entheseal morphology (AL: p = .000 - .012, AM: p = .000 - .131), particularly when age (AL: young p = .007 - .883, middle-aged p = .000 - .101, AM: young p = .022 - .591, middle-aged p = .007 - .271) and sex (AL: females p = .004 - .655, males p = .000 - .093, AM: females p = .049 - .934, males p = .011 - .617) were accounted for in the analysis. Results indicate that biomechanical inferences gained from the underlying bone growth mechanism may not support conclusions drawn from macroscopic observations, suggesting the need for multi-methodological approaches in future studies.