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Human Skeletal Growth: Observations from Analyses of Three Skeletal Populations

MacCord, Katherine (2009) Human Skeletal Growth: Observations from Analyses of Three Skeletal Populations. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research seeks to illuminate four problems that have long plagued the anthropological study of human skeletal growth. These problems, and their respective research questions, are as follows:1)Sexual dimorphism: Is there a difference in skeletal growth between males and females?2)Population variation: Do geographically distinct populations experience different patterns of growth?3)Mortality bias: Is there a morphological difference between those who die and those who survive?4)Disease and malnutrition: What are the effects of disease and malnutrition on human skeletal growth?Subadult individuals from the Hamann-Todd Collection (n=33) in Cleveland, the Luis Lopes Collection (n=44) in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Raymond Dart Collection (n=31) in Johannesburg, South Africa, were analyzed to test these questions. Diaphyseal lengths were measured for all individuals; femora were used for all statistical analyses. The three samples were combined following the analysis of population variation.ANOVA of femoral length by sex (controlled for age) was used to analyze the degree of sexual dimorphism within the combined sample, and the difference was found to be insignificant (p=0.367). Population variation was investigated using ANOVA; femoral length by sample (controlled for age) was analyzed and found to be insignificant (p=0.203). T-tests of mean femoral length for the combined sample vs. the reported means of Maresh (1955) were conducted for each age category in order to examine the difference between living standards (provided by Maresh, 1955) and their contemporaneous skeletal counterparts. Nine of the 13 age categories exhibited significant results (p less than 0.05). No significant difference was found between diaphyseal lengths of the pathological sample and the normal sample (p=0.25), or between the different pathological categories (p=0.388). ANOVA between individual pathological categories and the normal sample showed that only malnutrition had a significant (p=0.016) inhibitory effect on growth. The results of this study indicate that sexual dimorphism in long bone growth is not apparent prior to adolescence, the degree of variation between geographically disparate populations is not significant (p greater than 0.05), mortality bias is a significant factor affecting juvenile skeletal remains, and while malnutrition significantly retards skeletal growth, the diseases tested here do not.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchwartz, Jeffrey Hjhs@pitt.eduJHS
Committee MemberHall, Brian
Committee MemberMcCord, Edward
Committee MemberMooney, Mark
Date: 22 May 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 10 April 2009
Approval Date: 22 May 2009
Submission Date: 20 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disease; Hamann-Todd; Luis Lopes; malnutrition; mortality bias; population variation; Raymond Dart; human skeletal growth; sexual dimorphism
Other ID:, etd-04202009-183957
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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