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Keywords:

  • beam theory;
  • bending strength;
  • 3-D data processing;
  • scaling;
  • long bone;
  • terrestriality;
  • arboreality;
  • Old World monkeys;
  • New World monkeys;
  • gibbons

Abstract

The aims of this study were to describe the curvature of anthropoid limb bones quantitatively, to determine how limb bone curvature scales with body mass, and to discuss how bone curvature influences static measures of bone strength. Femora and humeri in six anthropoid genera of Old World monkeys, New World monkeys, and gibbons were used. Bone length, curvature, and cross-sectional properties were incorporated into the analysis. These variables were obtained by a new method using three-dimensional morphological data reconstructed from consecutive CT images. This method revealed the patterns of curvature of anthropoid limb bones. Log-transformed scaling analyses of the characters revealed that bone length and especially bone curvature strongly reflected taxonomic/locomotor differences. As compared with Old World monkeys, New World monkeys and gibbons in particular have a proportionally long and less curved femur and humerus relative to body mass. It is also revealed that the section modulus relative to body mass varies less between taxonomic/locomotor groups in anthropoids. Calculation of theoretical bending strengths implied that Old World monkeys achieve near-constant bending strength in accordance with the tendency observed in general terrestrial mammals. Relatively shorter bone length and larger A-P curvature of Old World monkeys largely contribute to this uniformity. Bending strengths in New World monkeys and gibbons were, however, a little lower under lateral loading and extremely stronger and more variable under axial loading as compared with Old World monkeys, due to their relative elongated and weakly curved femora and humeri. These results suggest that arboreal locomotion, including quadrupedalism and suspension, requires functional demands quite dissimilar to those required in terrestrial quadrupedalism. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.