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J Anat. 2009 Jun;214(6):817-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01073.x.

Anticipating bipedalism: trabecular organization in the newborn ilium.

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  • 1Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK. c.a.cunningham@dundee.ac.uk


Trabecular bone structural organization is considered to be predominantly influenced by localized temporal forces which act to maintain and remodel the trabecular architecture into a biomechanically optimal configuration. In the adult pelvis, the most significant remodelling forces are believed to be those generated during bipedal locomotion. However, during the fetal and neonatal period the pelvic complex is non-weight bearing and, as such, structural organization of iliac trabecular bone cannot reflect direct stance-related forces. In this study, micro-computed tomography scans from 28 neonatal ilia were analysed, using a whole bone approach, to investigate the trabecular characteristics present within specific volumes of interest relevant to density gradients highlighted in a previous radiographic study. Analysis of the structural indices bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, trabecular spacing and trabecular number was carried out to quantitatively investigate structural composition. Quantification of the neonatal trabecular structure reinforced radiographic observations by highlighting regions of significant architectural form which grossly parallel architectural differences in the adult pattern but which have previously been attributed to stance-related forces. It is suggested that the seemingly organized rudimentary scaffold observed in the neonatal ilium may be attributable to other non-weight bearing anatomical interactions or even to a predetermined genetic blueprint. It must also be postulated that whilst the observed patterning may be indicative of a predetermined inherent template, early non-weight bearing and late stance-related locomotive influences may subsequently be superimposed upon this scaffolding and perhaps reinforced and likely remodelled at a later age. Ultimately, the analysis of this fundamental primary pattern has core implications for understanding the earliest changes in pelvic trabecular architecture and provides a baseline insight into future ontogenetic development and bipedal capabilities.

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