Ontogeny and variability of trabecular bone in the chimpanzee humerus, femur and tibia

Zewdi J. Tsegai*, Matthew M. Skinner, Dieter H. Pahr, Jean Jacques Hublin, Tracy L. Kivell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Trabecular bone structure is known to be influenced by joint loading during life. However, many additional variables have the potential to contribute to trabecular bone structure of an adult individual, including age, sex, body size, genetics, and overall activity level. There is little research into intraspecific variability in trabecular bone and ontogeny of trabecular bone structure, especially in nonhuman primates. Materials and methods: This study investigates trabecular structure in adult and immature chimpanzees from a single population using high-resolution microcomputed tomographic scans of the proximal humerus, proximal femur, and distal tibia. Trabecular bone volume fraction (BV/TV), trabecular thickness (Tb.Th), trabecular number (Tb.N), trabecular spacing (Tb.Sp), and degree of anisotropy (DA) were quantified in specific regions of adult and immature chimpanzees, and color maps were generated to visualize the distribution of BV/TV throughout the joint in the metaphysis of immature specimens. Results: The results demonstrate that variability in adult trabecular structure cannot be explained by sex or body size. During ontogeny, there is a general increase in trabecular BV/TV and Tb.Th with age, and ratios of trabecular parameters between the fore- and hindlimb may be consistent with locomotor transitions during ontogeny. Discussion: Variation in trabecular morphology among adult individuals is not related to sex or body size, and the factors contributing to intraspecific variability, such as overall activity levels and genetic differences, require further investigation. Trabecular ontogeny in chimpanzees differs from humans in some respects, most notably the absence of a high BV/TV at birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-736
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cancellous bone
  • development
  • knuckle-walking
  • locomotion
  • Pan troglodytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ontogeny and variability of trabecular bone in the chimpanzee humerus, femur and tibia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this