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Keywords:

  • talus;
  • trabecular bone;
  • Primates;
  • locomotion

Abstract

The trabecular structure of the ankle bone in small to medium-bodied (60–5000 g) primates of distinct locomotor types was analyzed using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. There are large inter-, intraspecific, and regional (medial vs. lateral) variations in the trabecular architecture of the talar body. Body mass has no effect on the bone volume fraction or on the fabric anisotropy. However, both the number and thickness of trabeculae seem to be body mass-dependent. All taxa show anisotropic trabecular bone, but the degree of anisotropy and elongation values vary, notably across the locomotion categories. The fabric orientation in the talar body indicates that, practically, all taxa studied display a generally consistent pattern of orientation restricted primarily to a dorsoplantar direction. We have observed a mediolateral difference in the bone volume fraction in most primates who are proficient or frequent climbers. This could reflect a specific reinforcement of the trabecular structure in response to the loads engendered in habitually sustained foot inversion. In contrast, tali of primates who are proficient or frequent leapers rather exhibit a different three-dimensional distribution of the material, which consists of a more anisotropic trabecular structure. This could reflect stronger unidirectional and stereotypical-loading conditions generated at the ankle joints during a leap. Finally, it appears that the talar trabecular bone structure has a good potential for predicting locomotion in extinct species. We have analyzed the trabecular bone structure of the talus of some Eocene European primates (Adapis, Leptadapis, and Necrolemur) and compared the functional signal of the external versus internal talar anatomy in these fossils. Anat Rec, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.