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Keywords:

  • longitudinal arch;
  • quadrupedal;
  • suspensory;
  • bipedal;
  • plantigrade

Abstract

Primates use a range of locomotor modes during which they incorporate various foot postures. Humans are unique compared with other primates in that humans lack a mobile fore- and midfoot. Rigidity in the human foot is often attributed to increased propulsive and stability requirements during bipedalism. Conversely, fore- and midfoot mobility in nonhuman primates facilitates locomotion in arboreal settings. Here, we evaluated apparent density (AD) in the subchondral bone of human, ape, and monkey calcanei exhibiting different types of foot loading. We used computed tomography osteoabsorptiometry and maximum intensity projection (MIP) maps to visualize AD in subchondral bone at the cuboid articular surface of calcanei. MIPs represent 3D volumes (of subchondral bone) condensed into 2D images by extracting AD maxima from columns of voxels comprising the volumes. False-color maps are assigned to MIPs by binning pixels in the 2D images according to brightness values. We compared quantities and distributions of AD pixels in the highest bin to test predictions relating AD patterns to habitual locomotor modes and foot posture categories of humans and several nonhuman primates. Nonhuman primates exhibit dorsally positioned high AD concentrations, where maximum compressive loading between the calcaneus and cuboid likely occurs during “midtarsal break” of support. Humans exhibit less widespread areas of high AD, which could reflect reduced fore- and midfoot mobility. Analysis of the internal morphology of the tarsus, such as subchondral bone AD, potentially offers new insights for evaluating primate foot function during locomotion. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.