• acetabular crease;
  • hip bone;
  • Byers Feature 17;
  • non-metric trait;
  • historic populations;
  • prehistoric populations;
  • France;
  • North America


The acetabular crease is a linear indentation located in the antero-superior quadrant of the surface of the acetabulum at the level of the Byers Feature 17. Considered by palaeoanthropologists as a discrete trait, it has received scarce attention and the mechanisms underlying its formation and variations according to sex and age remain largely unclear. The purpose of this study, carried out on a large sample from a historic population in France, was to (i) analyse variations according to side, sex and estimated age at death; (ii) assess diachronic variations; and (iii) compare prevalence in various prehistoric and historic populations. Hip bones from a total of 425 subjects of both sexes and all ages were studied. Specimens were from two French historic samples dating from the 11th to 13th centuries and 16th to 17th centuries. The proportion of subjects that died young was higher in the 11th to 13th century group, but the prevalence of the acetabular crease was comparable between the two groups regardless of site or laterality (unilateral or bilateral). No sexual dimorphism or correlation with age was noted at either period. The acetabular crease appears to be a stable anatomical trait throughout adult life, with no predominant side and no correlation with sex. The significantly higher prevalence of the acetabular crease in some historic French samples and in prehistoric native Canadian populations could be linked to greater biomechanical stress during childhood in rural medieval populations and in the prehistoric period. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.