Bone mineral-osteon analysis of Yupik-inupiaq skeletons



Living adult Eskimos from St. Lawrence Island, North Alaska, and Canada undergo an earlier and more rapid rate of age-related bone mineral loss compared with U.S. whites. Further, it has been shown that Eskimos and Indians differ in patterns of osteon remodeling at the Haversian envelope.

Femoral bone cores from adult Eskimo skeletons from St. Lawrence Island (n = 53), Kodiak Island (n = 92), Baffin Island (n = 44), and Southampton Island (n = 69) were analyzed and the results compared with those obtained from cores from U.S. whites (n = 144). Cortical thickness, bone mineral content of cores, cortical bone density, secondary osteon and Haversian canal number and area were quantified for each core. Ages at death were estimated by histological methods and compared with the ages at death estimated by morphological methods for the Eskimo skeletons. Known ages at death were compared with histologically estimated ages at death for the U.S. white series.

St. Lawrence Island and Kodiak Island (Yupik speakers) Eskimo cortical thickness values were significantly (P < .05) greater than Baffin Island and Southampton Island (Inupiaq speakers) Eskimo cortical thickness values but less than the cortical thickness values for U.S. whites. The bone mineral content of the Southampton Eskimo femoral cores was the lowest found in this study. Histological analysis of the femoral bone sections showed that Eskimos contain more osteons per unit area than U.S. whites. No differences in osteon size were noted between the two populations. Differences in patterns of osteon remodeling between Eskimos and whites were inferred.

Age at death estimations by histological methods in Eskimos using U.S. white regression equations yielded age estimates in poor agreement with those obtained by morphological methods.