Human Skeletal Growth: Observations from Analyses of Three Skeletal Populations

by MacCord, Katherine

Abstract (Summary)
This research seeks to illuminate four problems that have long plagued the anthropological study of human skeletal growth. These problems, and their respective research questions, are as follows: 1) Sexual dimorphism: Is there a difference in skeletal growth between males and females? 2) Population variation: Do geographically distinct populations experience different patterns of growth? 3) Mortality bias: Is there a morphological difference between those who die and those who survive? 4) Disease and malnutrition: What are the effects of disease and malnutrition on human skeletal growth? Subadult individuals from the Hamann-Todd Collection (n=33) in Cleveland, the Luis Lopes Collection (n=44) in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Raymond Dart Collection (n=31) in Johannesburg, South Africa, were analyzed to test these questions. Diaphyseal lengths were measured for all individuals; femora were used for all statistical analyses. The three samples were combined following the analysis of population variation. ANOVA of femoral length by sex (controlled for age) was used to analyze the degree of sexual dimorphism within the combined sample, and the difference was found to be insignificant (p=0.367). Population variation was investigated using ANOVA; femoral length by sample (controlled for age) was analyzed and found to be insignificant (p=0.203). T-tests of mean femoral length for the combined sample vs. the reported means of Maresh (1955) were conducted for each age category in order to examine the difference between living standards (provided by Maresh, 1955) and their contemporaneous skeletal counterparts. Nine of the 13 age categories exhibited significant results (p less than 0.05). No significant difference was found between diaphyseal lengths of the pathological sample and the normal sample (p=0.25), or between the different pathological categories (p=0.388). ANOVA between individual pathological categories and the normal sample showed that only malnutrition had a significant (p=0.016) inhibitory effect on growth. The results of this study indicate that sexual dimorphism in long bone growth is not apparent prior to adolescence, the degree of variation between geographically disparate populations is not significant (p greater than 0.05), mortality bias is a significant factor affecting juvenile skeletal remains, and while malnutrition significantly retards skeletal growth, the diseases tested here do not.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Mark Mooney; Edward McCord; Jeffrey H Schwartz; Brian Hall

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:05/22/2009

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