The relationships among physical, geometrical and mechanical properties of bone, with a note on the properties of nonhuman primate bone


  • David B. Burr

    1. Department of Anatomy, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66103
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    • The author's current address is: Departments of Anatomy and Orthopedic Surgery, West Virginia University Medical Center, Morgantown, W. Va. 26506.


Since bone reacts to imposed loads by formation and resorption of tissue, analysis of tissue distribution within a bone provides evidence of the adaptation of that bone to a given mechanical function. Definition of these structure-function relationships permits the physical anthropologist to clarify the wide variety of behavioral/morphological adaptations to specific ecological niches in extant primates. From this information, behavior and locomotor function can ultimately be inferred in fossil primates. This paper reviews research which shows the relationships between the physical, geometrical and mechanical properties of bone, so that researchers who are investigating the properties of bone are aware of the numerous interpretations which may be made about structure and function from basic data. In addition, this paper is an attempt to apprise investigators working with primates that comparative data on the properties of primate bone are available, though sparse.