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Shared human-chimpanzee pattern of perinatal femoral shaft morphology and its implications for the evolution of hominin locomotor adaptations


Morimoto, Naoki; Zollikofer, Christoph P E; Ponce de León, Marcia S (2012). Shared human-chimpanzee pattern of perinatal femoral shaft morphology and its implications for the evolution of hominin locomotor adaptations. PLoS ONE, 7(7):e41980.

Abstract

Background:
Acquisition of bipedality is a hallmark of human evolution. How bipedality evolved from great ape-like locomotor behaviors, however, is still highly debated. This is mainly because it is difficult to infer locomotor function, and even more so locomotor kinematics, from fossil hominin long bones. Structure-function relationships are complex, as long bone morphology reflects phyletic history, developmental programs, and loading history during an individual’s lifetime. Here we discriminate between these factors by investigating the morphology of long bones in fetal and neonate great apes and humans, before the onset of locomotion.
Methodology/Principal Findings:
Comparative morphometric analysis of the femoral diaphysis indicates that its morphology reflects phyletic relationships between hominoid taxa to a greater extent than taxon-specific locomotor adaptations. Diaphyseal morphology in humans and chimpanzees exhibits several shared-derived features, despite substantial differences in locomotor adaptations. Orangutan and gorilla morphologies are largely similar, and likely represent the primitive hominoid state.
Conclusions/Significance:
These findings are compatible with two possible evolutionary scenarios. Diaphyseal morphology may reflect retained adaptive traits of ancestral taxa, hence human-chimpanzee shared-derived features may be indicative of the locomotor behavior of our last common ancestor. Alternatively, diaphyseal morphology might reflect evolution by genetic drift (neutral evolution) rather than selection, and might thus be more informative about phyletic relationships between taxa than about locomotor adaptations. Both scenarios are consistent with the hypothesis that knuckle-walking in chimpanzees and gorillas resulted from convergent evolution, and that the evolution of human bipedality is unrelated to extant great ape locomotor specializations.

Abstract

Background:
Acquisition of bipedality is a hallmark of human evolution. How bipedality evolved from great ape-like locomotor behaviors, however, is still highly debated. This is mainly because it is difficult to infer locomotor function, and even more so locomotor kinematics, from fossil hominin long bones. Structure-function relationships are complex, as long bone morphology reflects phyletic history, developmental programs, and loading history during an individual’s lifetime. Here we discriminate between these factors by investigating the morphology of long bones in fetal and neonate great apes and humans, before the onset of locomotion.
Methodology/Principal Findings:
Comparative morphometric analysis of the femoral diaphysis indicates that its morphology reflects phyletic relationships between hominoid taxa to a greater extent than taxon-specific locomotor adaptations. Diaphyseal morphology in humans and chimpanzees exhibits several shared-derived features, despite substantial differences in locomotor adaptations. Orangutan and gorilla morphologies are largely similar, and likely represent the primitive hominoid state.
Conclusions/Significance:
These findings are compatible with two possible evolutionary scenarios. Diaphyseal morphology may reflect retained adaptive traits of ancestral taxa, hence human-chimpanzee shared-derived features may be indicative of the locomotor behavior of our last common ancestor. Alternatively, diaphyseal morphology might reflect evolution by genetic drift (neutral evolution) rather than selection, and might thus be more informative about phyletic relationships between taxa than about locomotor adaptations. Both scenarios are consistent with the hypothesis that knuckle-walking in chimpanzees and gorillas resulted from convergent evolution, and that the evolution of human bipedality is unrelated to extant great ape locomotor specializations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:13 Dec 2012 10:34
Last Modified:07 Aug 2017 12:17
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Series Name:PLoS ONE
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0041980
PubMed ID:22848680

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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