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Title: Morphological correlates of distal fibular morphology with locomotion in great apes, humans, and Australopithecus afarensis
Authors: Marchi, Damiano
Rimoldi, Andreas
García-Martínez, Daniel
Bastir, Markus
Keywords: 3D geometric morphometrics;Arboreal locomotion;Bipedal locomotion;Fibula;Functional morphology
Issue Date: Jun-2022
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 2022, 178(2), 286-300
Abstract: Objectives: Recent studies highlighted the importance of the fibula to further our understanding of locomotor adaptations in fossil hominins. In this study, we present a three-dimensional geometric morphometric (3D-GM) investigation of the distal fibula in extant hominids and Australopithecus afarensis with the aim of pointing out morphological correlations to arboreal behavior. Methods: Three-dimensional surface meshes of the distal fibula were obtained using computer tomography for 40 extant hominid specimens and laser scanner for five A. afarensis specimens. Distal fibula morphology was quantified positioning 11 fixed landmarks, 40 curve semilandmarks, and 20 surface landmarks on each specimen. A generalized Procrustes analysis (GPA) was carried out on all landmark coordinates followed by Procrustes ANOVA. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed on the GPA-aligned shape coordinates. Kruskal-Wallis tests and Mann–Whitney test were performed on scores along PCs. Results: Great apes are characterized by a shorter subcutaneous triangular surface (STS), more downward facing fibulotalar articular facets, more anteriorly facing lateral malleolus and wider/deeper malleolar fossa than humans. Within great apes, orangutans are characterized by more medially facing fibulotalar articular facets. Australopithecus afarensis shows a unique distal fibular morphology with several traits that are generally associated more to arboreality and less to bipedalism such as a short STS, a more anteriorly facing, laterally pointing malleolus and deeper and larger malleolar fossa. Conclusions: The distal fibula morphology is indicative of locomotor patterns within extant hominids. The 3D-GM method presented here can be successfully used to further our understanding of arboreal adaptations in fossil hominins.
ISSN: 2692-7691
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24507
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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