a morphometric analysis of the distal femur and proximal tibia in three populations of known age at death
This study examines possible morphological variation in the knee joint of Homo sapiens with increasing age in ostensively healthy and non-pathological distal femora and proximal tibiae. Throughout the lifetime of each individual, the hard tissue of the knee undergoes considerable remodelling as a response to biomechanical stresses, changes in bone microarchitecture and reduction of bone mineral content as a concomitant of ageing. The knee is also subject to greater levels of degenerative joint disease than any other joint. If death occurs whilst such diseases are in the earliest stages, initial bone changes may not be visually obvious in museum specimens. If such specimens are used for comparative analyses, it is hypothesised that changes might render it problematic if all ages are conglomerated into discrete samples. This study therefore investigates the degree to which the distal femur and proximal tibia change shape during ageing and, if changes are present, whether they are expressed similarly in males and females. It also examines whether changes are of greater magnitude than those morphological differences which might exist between populations. In an example population of African-Americans, results indicate that there is a statistically significant difference in shape between age groups and those differences become progressively greater between the youngest and oldest adults. Results also show that although morphological variation caused by ageing is apparent, those shape differences attributable to sexual dimorphism are more powerful. When two additional populations are analysed jointly with the African-Americans (Caucasian Americans and the European Spitalfields sample), results indicate that inter-population shape differences are considerably greater than differences caused by increasing age. Results imply that it is justifiable to combine specimens of all ages into discrete samples for comparative purposes. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
21 December 2007, 07:07:00 S. D. Stevens, U. Strand Vi[dstrok]arsdóttir