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Keywords:

  • tibia;
  • hominoids;
  • semilandmarks;
  • artificial affine transformation;
  • locomotion

Abstract

Procrustes-based geometric morphometrics (GM) is most often applied to problems of craniofacial shape variation. Here, we demonstrate a novel application of GM to the analysis of whole postcranial elements in a study of 77 hominoid tibiae. We focus on two novel methodological improvements to standard GM approaches: 1) landmark configurations of tibiae including 15 epiphyseal landmarks and 483 semilandmarks along articular surfaces and muscle insertions along the tibial shaft and 2) an artificial affine transformation that sets moments along the shaft equal to the sum of the moments estimated in the other two anatomical directions. Diagrams of the principal components of tibial shapes support most differences between human and non-human primates reported previously. The artificial affine transformation proposed here results in an improved clustering of the great apes that may prove useful in future discriminant or clustering studies. Since the shape variations observed may be related to different locomotor behaviors, posture, or activity patterns, we suggest that this method be used in functional analyses of tibiae or other long bones in modern populations or fossil specimens. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.