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Reconciling the convergence of supraspinous fossa shape among hominoids in light of locomotor differences


Gunz,  Philipp
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Green, D. J., Sugiura, Y., Seitelman, B. C., & Gunz, P. (2015). Reconciling the convergence of supraspinous fossa shape among hominoids in light of locomotor differences. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 156(4), 498-510. doi:10.1002/ajpa.22695.

Differences in scapular morphology between modern humans and the African and lesser apes are associated with the distinct locomotor habits of these groups. However, several traits, particularly aspects of the supraspinous fossa, are convergent between Homo and Pongo—an unexpected result given their divergent locomotor habits. Many morphological assessments of the scapula rely on the limited number of static landmarks available, and traditional approaches like these tend to oversimplify scapular shape. Here, we present the results of two geometric morphometric (GM) analyses of hominoid supraspinous fossa shape—one employing five homologous landmarks and another with 83 sliding semilandmarks—alongside those of traditional methods to evaluate if three-dimensional considerations of fossa shape afford more comprehensive insights into scapular shape and functional morphology. Traditional measures aligned Pongo and Homo with narrow and transversely oriented supraspinous fossae, whereas African ape and Hylobates fossae are broader and more obliquely situated. However, our GM results highlight that much of the convergence between Homo and Pongo is reflective of their more medially positioned superior angles. These approaches offered a more complete assessment of supraspinous shape and revealed that the Homo fossa, with an intermediate superior angle position and moderate superoinferior expansion, is actually reminiscent of the African ape shape. Additionally, both Pongo and Hylobates were shown to have more compressed fossae, something that has not previously been identified through traditional analyses. Thus, the total morphological pattern of the Pongo supraspinous fossa is unique among hominoids, and possibly indicative of its distinctive locomotor habits. Am J Phys Anthropol 156:498–510, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.