• human iliac growth;
  • ontogeny;
  • trabecular architecture


Trabecular architecture forms an important structural component of bone and, depending on the loading conditions encountered during life, is organised in a systematic, bone- and species-specific manner. However, recent studies suggested that gross trabecular arrangement (e.g. density distribution), like overall bone shape, is predetermined and/or affected by factors other than loading and perhaps less plastic than commonly assumed. To explore this issue further, the present cross-sectional ontogenetic study investigated morphological changes in external bone shape in relation to changes in trabecular bundle orientation and anisotropy. Radiographs of 73 modern human ilia were assessed using radiographic and Geometric Morphometric techniques. The study confirmed the apparently strong predetermination of trabecular bundle development, i.e. prior to external loading, although loading clearly also had an effect on overall morphology. For example, the sacro-pubic bundle, which follows the path of load transmission from the auricular surface to the acetabulum, is well defined and shows relatively high levels of anisotropy from early stages of development; the situation for the ischio-iliac strut is similar. However, while the sacro-pubic strut retains a constant relationship with the external landmarks defining the joint surfaces, the ischio-iliac bundle changes its relationship with the external landmarks and becomes aligned with the iliac tubercle only during late adolescence/early adulthood. It is tentatively proposed that the rearrangement of the ischio-iliac strut may reflect a change in locomotor pattern and/or a shift in positional behavior with increasing mass after growth of external bone dimensions has slowed/ceased.