Patterns in ontogeny of human trabecular bone from SunWatch Village in the Prehistoric Ohio Valley: General features of microarchitectural change



Although adult skeletal morphological variation is best understood within the framework of age-related processes, relatively little research has been directed towards the structure of and variation in trabecular bone during ontogeny. We report here new quantitative and structural data on trabecular bone microarchitecture in the proximal tibia during growth and development, as demonstrated in a subadult archaeological skeletal sample from the Late Prehistoric Ohio Valley. These data characterize the temporal sequence and variation in trabecular bone structure and structural parameters during ontogeny as related to the acquisition of normal functional activities and changing body mass. The skeletal sample from the Fort Ancient Period site of SunWatch Village is composed of 33 subadult and three young adult proximal tibiae. Nondestructive microCT scanning of the proximal metaphyseal and epiphyseal tibia captures the microarchitectural trabecular structure, allowing quantitative structural analyses measuring bone volume fraction, degree of anisotropy, trabecular thickness, and trabecular number. The microCT resolution effects on structural parameters were analyzed. Bone volume fraction and degree of anisotropy are highest at birth, decreasing to low values at 1 year of age, and then gradually increasing to the adult range around 6–8 years of age. Trabecular number is highest at birth and lowest at skeletal maturity; trabecular thickness is lowest at birth and highest at skeletal maturity. The results of this study highlight the dynamic sequential relationships between growth/development, general functional activities, and trabecular distribution and architecture, providing a reference for comparative studies. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.