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Title: Ontogeny and adaptation : a cross-sectional study of primate limb elements
Author: Nadell, Jason Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 8792
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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How primates achieve their adult skeletal form can be ascribed to two broad biological mechanisms: genetic inheritance, where morphological characters are regulated by an individual's phenotype over development; and plastic adaptation, where morphology responds to extrinsic factors engendered by the physical environment. While skeletal morphology should reflect an individual’s ecological demands throughout its life, only a limited amount of published research has considered how ontogeny and locomotor behaviour influence limb element form together. This thesis presents an investigation of long bone cross-sectional shape, size and strength, to inform how five catarrhine taxa adapt their limbs over development, and further, evaluate which limb regions more readily emit signals of plasticity or constraint along them. The sample includes Pan, Gorilla, Pongo, Hylobatidae and Macaca, subdivided into three developmental stages: infancy, juvenility and adulthood. Three-dimensional models of four upper (humerus and ulna) and lower (femur and tibia) limb elements were generated using a laser scanner and sectioned at proximal, midshaft and distal locations along each diaphysis. Three methods were used to compare geometry across the sample: 1) principal and anatomical axis ratios served as indices of section circularity, 2) polar section moduli evaluated relative strength between limb sections and 3) a geometric morphometric approach was developed to define section form. The results demonstrated that irrespective of taxonomic affinity, forelimb elements serve as strong indicators of posture and locomotor ontogenetic transitions, while hindlimb form is more reflective of body size and developmental shifts in body mass. Moreover, geometric variation at specific regions like the midhumerus was indistinguishable across all infant taxa in the sample, only exhibiting posture-specific signals among mature groups, while sections like the distal ulna exhibited little or no intraspecific variation over development. Identifying patterns of plasticity and constraint across taxonomic and developmental groups informs how limb cross-sections either allometrically or isometrically scale their form as they grow. These findings have direct implications to extant and extinct primate research pertaining to body mass estimation, functional morphology and behavioural ecology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available