Brief communication: Developmental versus functional three-dimensional geometric morphometric-based modularity of the human proximal humerus



The proximal humerus is formed by three secondary ossification centers during the postnatal trajectory of the human infant. The ossification centers later grow into the structures of the articular surface, major tubercle, and minor tubercle. There is a purported functional division between the articular surface and the tubercles, with the articular surface mainly responsible for the range of movement of the shoulder joint, and the tubercles bearing the insertions of the rotator cuff muscles, mainly devoted to securing the joint against humeral displacement. Using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics, we tested the presence of such developmental and functional divisions in the proximal humerus, applying the RV coefficient of Escoufier to these a priori hypothesized modules. Our results indicate that the proximal humerus might be a generally integrated structure. However, a weak signal for modular configuration was present, with slightly stronger support for the two modules depicting the boundaries between the purported functional regions of the epiphysis: the articular surface and the tubercles. Am J Phys Anthropol 154:459–465, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.