• skeleton;
  • chimpanzee;
  • captive;
  • epiphyseal fusion


Fusion of skeletal elements provides markers for timing of growth and is one component of a chimpanzee's physical development. Epiphyseal closure defines bone growth and signals a mature skeleton. Most of what we know about timing of development in chimpanzees derives from dental studies on Pan troglodytes. Much less is known about the sister species, Pan paniscus, with few in captivity and a wild range restricted to central Africa. Here, we report on the timing of skeletal fusion for female captive P. paniscus (n = 5) whose known ages range from 0.83 to age 11.68 years. Observations on the skeletons were made after the individuals were dissected and bones cleaned. Comparisons with 10 female captive P. troglodytes confirm a generally uniform pattern in the sequence of skeletal fusion in the two captive species. We also compared the P. paniscus to a sample of three unknown-aged female wild P. paniscus, and 10 female wild P. troglodytes of known age from the Taï National Park, Côte d'Ivoire. The sequence of teeth emergence to bone fusion is generally consistent between the two species, with slight variations in late juvenile and subadult stages. The direct-age comparisons show that skeletal growth in captive P. paniscus is accelerated compared with both captive and wild P. troglodytes populations. The skeletal data combined with dental stages have implications for estimating the life stage of immature skeletal materials of wild P. paniscus and for more broadly comparing the skeletal growth rates among captive and wild chimpanzees (Pan), Homo sapiens, and fossil hominins. Am J Phys Anthropol 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.