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Structural effects of variation in the human clavicle

Abstract : Objectives: Purported evolutionary shifts in shoulder structure have been linked to changes in hominin behavior and adaptation. Researchers use clavicle morphology to infer these shifts. However, there is a lack of empirical data underlying such predictive relationships. This study investigates how clavicle morphology affects articulated shoulder girdle and upper thorax configuration in humans. Materials and Methods: Landmarks and scalar measurements on the clavicle, scapula, and ribs 1–3 were collected from three-dimensional computed tomographic scans of living humans. Covariation between disarticulated and articulated morphology was assessed using partial least squares and regression analyses. Results: We found support for hypotheses linking combined dimensions of the clavicle, ribs, and scapula to resting protraction. Individuals with relatively short clavicles tend to exhibit protracted and elevated resting positions of the scapula. It is more difficult to predict superoinferior configuration, which is only minimally affected by clavicle curvature. Instead, the superoinferior position of the scapula on the thorax is governed equally by clavicle orientation and rib declination. Shoulder breadth is determined primarily by clavicle length, but orientation has a comparable effect. Therefore, reliable reconstructions of shoulder breadth can be established using clavicle length, together with consideration of orientation. Relationships between clavicle and thorax morphology are weaker. Discussion: Understanding the determinants of variation in human shoulder structure informs interpretation of skeletal remains. Our investigations describe how important aspects of shoulder structure can be inferred from disarticulated clavicles and we provide the attendant predictive equations. Future work on interspecific variation will improve skeletal reconstruction for more ancient hominins.
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Contributor : Hélène Coqueugniot <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 2:02:35 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 4:16:01 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 6:14:49 PM


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Stephanie Melillo, Philipp Gunz, Hélène Coqueugniot, Stefan Reske, Jean-Jacques Hublin. Structural effects of variation in the human clavicle. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Wiley, 2019, 168 (4), pp.687 - 704. ⟨10.1002/ajpa.23787⟩. ⟨halshs-02162364⟩



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