The Influence of life history and sexual dimorphism on entheseal changes in modern humans and African great apes
Entheseal changes have been widely studied with regard to their correlation to biomechanical stress and their usefulness for biocultural reconstructions. However, anthropological and medical studies have demonstrated the marked influence of both age and sex on the development of these features. Studies of entheseal changes are mostly aimed in testing functional hypotheses and are mostly focused on modern humans, with few data available for non-human primates. The lack of comparative studies on
... arative studies on the effect of age and sex on entheseal changes represent a gap in our understanding of the evolutionary basis of both development and degeneration of the human musculoskeletal system. The aim of the present work is to compare age trajectories and patterns of sexual dimorphism in entheseal changes between modern humans and African great apes. To this end we analyzed 23 postcranial entheses in a human contemporary identified skeletal collection (N = 484) and compared the results with those obtained from the analysis of Pan (N = 50) and Gorilla (N = 47) skeletal specimens. Results highlight taxon-specific age trajectories possibly linked to differences in life history schedules and phyletic relationships. Robusticity trajectories separate Pan and modern humans from Gorilla, whereas enthesopathic patterns are unique in modern humans and possibly linked to their extended potential lifespan. Comparisons between sexes evidence a decreasing dimorphism in robusticity from Gorilla, to modern humans to Pan, which is likely linked to the role played by size, lifespan and physical activity on robusticity development. The present study confirms previous hypotheses on the possible relevance of EC in the study of life history, pointing moreover to their usefulness in evolutionary studies.