Sexual dimorphism of human ribs

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2006 Feb 28;150(2-3):233-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2005.04.002.


The volume of the rib cage is about 10% smaller in females than in males having the same height although the reason for this is presently unclear. The cranio-caudal inclination of ribs is greater in females than males but the length of ribs has not previously been compared between the sexes. In 23 males and 23 females studied at necropsy, body length, the length of the upper and lower limbs and the length of the thoracic spine were all smaller in females but the ratios of upper and lower limb lengths to body length and of thoracic spine length to body length were not different. By contrast, the lengths of the third, sixth and ninth ribs were not significantly different between males and females and the ratios of rib length to body length were all significantly greater in females. We conclude that in females the ribs grow longer in relation to the axial skeleton than in males.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Constitution / physiology
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Body Weights and Measures / methods
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ribs / anatomy & histology
  • Ribs / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Spine / anatomy & histology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Statistics, Nonparametric