• cortical index;
  • long bone length;
  • non-specific indicators;
  • Pacific Islands;
  • stress


To understand stress, attention must focus on the costs and limits of adaptation. The current study investigates two non-specific indicators of stress in human skeletal remains from three prehistoric sites in the Pacific Islands as an attempt to understand differential responses to island environments. The samples used in this study represent both colonising and established populations and are spread geographically throughout the Pacific Islands. In the current study both inter and intrasample comparisons of cortical index (CI) and maximum femoral length are made. Within all the samples there is evidence of an age related decline in CI and a sexual dimorphism of CI and maximum femoral length. No significant correlations are found between the non-specific indicators of stress and the temporal and spatial distributions of the samples. Overall, the indicators used in the current study show very similar results and therefore do not seem to reflect differential adaptation to Pacific Island environments through time and across island groups. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.