Functional morphology of the Neandertal scapular glenoid fossa.
Neandertals and Homo sapiens are known to differ in scapular glenoid fossa morphology. Functional explanations may be appropriate for certain aspects of glenoid fossa morphology; however, other factors--e.g., allometry, evolutionary development--must be addressed before functional morphology is considered. Using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics, shape of the scapular glenoid fossa was compared among Neandertals, early and recent modern humans, chimpanzees, orangutans, Australopithecus afarensis, and Au. sediba. Permutation analysis revealed that side, sex, and lifestyle did not correlate with shape. Of the features we found to differ between groups, anterior glenoid rim morphology and fossa curvature did not correlate with the aforementioned shape variables; thus, a functional explanation is appropriate for these components of glenoid fossa shape. Shared morphology among recent humans and chimpanzees (to the exclusion of Neandertals and orangutans) suggests independent forces contributing to these morphological configurations. Potential explanations include adaptations to habitual behavior and locomotor adaptations in the scapulae of recent humans and chimpanzees; these explanations are supported by clinical and experimental literature. The absence of these morphological features in Neandertals may support the lack of these selective forces on their scapular glenoid fossa morphology.
Macias, ME; Churchill, SE
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