Skeletal biology over the life span: a view from the surfaces

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2011;146 Suppl 53:86-98. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21612.


The biocultural interpretation of skeletal remains is based upon the foundation of skeletal biology. In this review we examine the current state of skeletal biology research outside of the mainstream anthropology literature. The focus is on the structural changes of bone development and growth, and modeling and repair in the four bone surfaces: periosteal, Haversian, endosteal, and trabecular. The pattern of skeletal changes is placed within the framework of the human life span. New perspectives and direction of research on the environmental, biological, and genetic influences on modeling and remodeling processes are discussed chronologically at each bone surface. Implications for biological anthropologists are considered. This approach emphasizes variation in skeletal biology as a dynamic record of development, maturity, and aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Anthropology, Physical*
  • Bone Development*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Sex Factors