, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 315-336
Date: 02 Mar 2013

A Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodological Approaches to Characterizing the Dorsal Side of the Scapula in Hominoidea and Its Relationship to Locomotion

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Abstract

Hominoidea have adapted to various forms of locomotion, each of which has specific requirements that are reflected in the shape of the scapula. We compared several qualitative and quantitative methods for characterizing the dorsal side of the scapula to detect morphological differences that reflect the adaptations of the scapula to locomotor behaviors. Our sample included 55 specimens of Hominoidea, representing five genera, including Homo, focusing specifically on the relative sizes of the scapular supraspinous and infranspinous fossae. In addition, we weighed the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles of 23 of the specimens to examine the feasibility of extrapolating muscle characteristics from osteological data. Our findings confirmed that the five genera exhibit significant differences in the relative size of the supraspinous and the infraspinous fossae that are related to their forms of locomotion. The supraspinous fossa was relatively small in Homo and Pongo but large in Pan, Gorilla, and Hylobates. The analysis of muscle weights showed that a substantial amount of information about soft tissues is lost in osteological analyses, leading us to recommend caution when drawing conclusions regarding forms of locomotion based only on osteological analyses.