Structural analysis of the Kresna 11 Homo erectus femoral shaft (Sangiran, Java)

J Hum Evol. 2012 Nov;63(5):741-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.08.003. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Abstract

The biomechanical characterization of lower limb long bones in the chrono-ecogeographically diverse species Homo erectus is a fundamental step for assessing evolutionary changes in locomotor mode and body shape that occurred within the genus Homo. However, the samples available for the Early and earlier Middle Pleistocene are small and widely scattered in time and space, thus limiting our understanding of the nature and polarity of morphological trends. Compared to the African fossil record, loading histories based on detailed biomechanical assessment of diaphyseal strength in Indonesian H. erectus lower limb long bones have not been assessed. By using a microtomographic record (μCT), we performed a quantitative analysis of the biomechanical properties and structural organization of Kresna 11, a late Early Pleistocene adult H. erectus femoral shaft from the Sangiran Dome, Central Java. Relative to the modern human condition, Kresna 11 shows the predominant mediolateral cortical thickening (hypertrophy) and the distal displacement of the minimum diaphyseal breadth characteristic of early Homo femora, associated nonetheless with relatively modest cortical thickness within the mid-proximal portion. Synthetic functional imaging of the shaft through the planar representation of its inner structure has revealed distal thickening of the medial cortex, a feature previously unreported in H. erectus. The increase in relative mediolateral bending strength observed in Kresna 11 supports the hypothesis that, rather than simply reflecting differences in patterns of locomotor loading, biomechanical properties of the femoral shaft in archaic Homo are strongly influenced by body shape, i.e., variations in pelvic breadth and femoral neck length.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Femur / anatomy & histology*
  • Femur / physiology
  • Fossils*
  • Hominidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Hominidae / physiology
  • Humans
  • Indonesia
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed