Scaling and relative size of the human, nonhuman ape, and baboon calcaneus

Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2022 Jan;305(1):100-122. doi: 10.1002/ar.24642. Epub 2021 Apr 27.


Among human and nonhuman apes, calcaneal morphology exhibits significant variation that has been related to locomotor behavior. Due to its role in weight-bearing, however, both body size and locomotion may impact calcaneal morphology. Determining how calcaneal morphologies vary as a function of body size is thus vital to understanding calcaneal functional adaptation. Here, we study calcaneus allometry and relative size in humans (n = 120) and nonhuman primates (n = 278), analyzing these relationships in light of known locomotor behaviors. Twelve linear measures and three articular facet surface areas were collected on calcaneus surface models. Body mass was estimated using femoral head superoinferior breadth. Relationships between calcaneal dimensions and estimated body mass were analyzed across the sample using phylogenetic least squares regression analyses (PGLS). Differences between humans and pooled nonhuman primates were tested using RMA ANCOVAs. Among (and within) genera residual differences from both PGLS regressions and isometry were analyzed using ANOVAs with post hoc multiple comparison tests. The relationships between all but two calcaneus dimensions and estimated body mass exhibit phylogenetic signal at the smallest taxonomic scale. This signal disappears when reanalyzed at the genus level. Calcaneal morphology varies relative to both body size and locomotor behavior. Humans have larger calcanei for estimated body mass relative to nonhuman primates as a potential adaptation for bipedalism. More terrestrial taxa exhibit longer calcaneal tubers for body mass, increasing the triceps surae lever arm. Among nonhuman great apes, more arboreal taxa have larger cuboid facet surface areas for body mass, increasing calcaneocuboid mobility.

Keywords: ankle; body size; foot; terrestriality.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcaneus*
  • Hominidae*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Papio
  • Phylogeny