Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Long bone shape: a family affair

04.10.2011
Although humans and chimpanzees move quite differently, muscle attachment sites at their thighbones are similar. This result, which has recently been published by anthropologists of Zurich University in the scientific journal «Anatomical Record», has major consequences for the interpretation of fossil hominin finds.

PhD student Naoki Morimoto, member of the Computer-Assisted Paleoanthropology group of Ch. Zollikofer and M. Ponce de León, and junior author of the study, was surprised by his own findings. Although humans are bipeds, and chimps are quadrupeds, muscle attachment sites at their thighbones are quite similar.


Great ape virtopsy: virtual preparation of skin, muscles, and bone of a young chimpanzee. UZH


Muscle attachment areas on the right thighbone (seen from lateral-posterior): During human-chimp evolution, the hip extensor muscle glutaeus maximus (GM) has «moved» from below to above a conspicuous bony crest (black arrowheads). In gorillas the GM muscle is situated below the crest, together with the vastus lateralis (VL) muscle. UZH

Attachment sites differ substantially, however, between chimpanzees and gorillas, although these great apes species move similarly. Interestingly, Morimoto’s results are in line with insights from genetics: humans and chimps are evolutionary sister species, while gorillas are more distant relatives, like cousins. Morimoto explains the seeming paradox of his results: this is not «form follows function», but «form follows family».

Functional inferences: a cautionary tale

The new findings have far-reaching implications for the interpretation of fossil hominin remains. Fossil thighbone shafts are often well preserved, but it now appears that inferences about locomotor behavior must be drawn with caution, while inferences about the fossil’s evolutionary relationships might be more straightforward. Anthropologist Ch. Zollikofer explains: «the transition from great-ape-like quadrupedal to human-like bipedal locomotion is accompanied by several changes in the hip and thighbones, but currently we cannot infer functional change from structural change with any certainty.» And he asks the next big question of paleoanthropology: «Why did the last common ancestor of humans and chimps, who might have lived 7-8 million years ago, evolve novel thighbone features?»

Virtual dissection

To get a detailed look at great ape musculoskeletal anatomy, the research team combined high-resolution computed tomography with computer-assisted virtual dissection. Great ape bodies are a scarce and valuable resource for scientific studies, and anthropologists are increasingly reluctant to «sacrifice» them for anatomical dissections. Virtual autopsy – or Virtopsy – is the method of choice. Virtopsy was pioneered by Michael Thali (Institute of Forensic Science, UZH), and is now used in forensic institutes worldwide. Anthropological virtopsy has enormous potential, as it permits virtual dissection of one single specimen by many different researchers, and according to many different criteria, without actually deteriorating the orginal body. Moreover, great ape virtopsy gives an immediate picture of the spatial relationships between soft and hard tissues (bones) of one and the same individual. Traditionally, bone morphology was studied on dry-skeleton specimens, and subsequently combined with muscle data obtained from dissections of other animals.

Acquiring 3D tomographic data of great ape bodies, however, is a complex endeavor, which requires collaboration across disciplines. To reach these goals, the «Visible Ape Consortium» was established, which has become an example of efficient transdisciplinary research at UZH (see below).

Literature:

Naoki Morimoto, Marcia S. Ponce De Leόn, Takeshi Nishimura and Christoph P.E. Zollikofer: Femoral Morphology and Femoropelvic Musculoskeletal Anatomy of Humans and Great Apes: A Comparative Virtopsy Study, in: The Anatomical Record, 294:1433–1445 (2011), DOI 10.1002/ar.21424

The Visible Ape Consortium:
Dr. Marcia Ponce de León and Prof. Christoph Zollikofer of the Anthropological Institute of the University of Zurich initiated the Visible Ape Consortium to acquire, archive and analyze 3D tomographic data of great ape bodies for anatomical and morphological research. Currently the following institutions form part of the Consortium: the Anthropological Institute, the Department of Diagnostic Imaging of the Vetsuisse Faculty (Prof. P. Kircher), the Institute of Forensic Science (Prof. M. Thali), the Center for Integrative Human Physiology (Prof. M. Gassmann), and Zoo Zurich. Close collaboration has been established with the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute in Inuyama, Japan (Dr. T. Nishimura).
Contact
Naoki Morimoto
Anthropological Institute
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 635 54 41
E-Mail: morimoto@aim.uzh.ch

Beat Müller | idw
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>