Inter- and intra-specific scaling of articular surface areas in the hominoid talus

Authors


William Parr, Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, Division of Biosciences, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK. E: parr.will@googlemail.com

Abstract

The morphology of postcranial articular surfaces is expected to reflect their weight-bearing properties, as well as the stability and mobility of the articulations to which they contribute. Previous studies have mainly confirmed earlier predictions of isometric scaling between articular surface areas and body mass; the exception to this is ‘male-type’, convex articular surface areas, which may scale allometrically due to differences in locomotor strategies within the analysed samples. In the present study, we used new surface scanning technology to quantify more accurately articular surface areas and to test those predictions within the talus of hominoid primates, including modern humans. Our results, contrary to predictions, suggest that there are no generalised rules of articular scaling within the talus of hominoids. Instead, we suggest that articular scaling patterns are highly context-specific, depending on the role of each articulation during locomotion, as well as taxon- and sex-specific differences in locomotion and ontogenetic growth trajectories within any given sample. While this may prove problematic for inferring body mass based on articular surface area, it also offers new opportunities of gaining substantial insights into the locomotor patterns of extinct species.

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