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Scapular morphology of great apes and humans : a three-dimensional computed tomography-based comparative study

(2023) JOURNAL OF ANATOMY. 242(2). p.164-173
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Abstract
The primate scapula has been studied widely since its shape has been shown to correlate with how the forelimb is used in daily activities. In this study, we expand on the existing literature and use an image-based methodology that was originally developed for orthopaedic practice to quantify and compare the three-dimensional (3D) morphology of the scapula across humans and great apes. We expect that this image-based approach will allow us to identify differences between great apes and humans that can be related to differences in mobility and loading regime of the shoulder. We hypothesize that gorillas and chimpanzees will have a similar scapular morphology, geared towards stability and weight-bearing in knuckle-walking, whilst the scapular morphology of orangutans is expected to be more similar to that of humans given their high glenohumeral mobility associated with their suspensory lifestyle. We made 3D reconstructions of computed tomography scans of 69 scapulae from four hominid genera (Pongo, Gorilla, Pan and Homo). On these 3D bone meshes, the inferior glenoid plane was determined, and subsequently, a set of bony landmarks on the scapular body, coracoid, and acromion were defined. These landmarks allowed us to measure a set of functionally relevant angles which represent acromial overhang, subacromial space and coracoacromial space. The angles that were measured are: the delto-fulcral triangle (DFT), comprising the alpha, beta, and delta angle, the acromion-glenoid angle (AGA), the coracoid-glenoid centre-posterior acromial angle (CGA), the anterior tilt (TA CGA) and the posterior tilt of the CGA (PT CGA). Three observers placed the landmarks on the 3D bone meshes, allowing us to calculate the inter-observer error. The main differences in the DFT were found between humans and the great apes, with small differences between the great apes. The DFT of humans was significantly lower compared to that of the great apes, with the smallest alpha (32.7 degrees), smallest delta (45.7 degrees) and highest beta angle (101.6 degrees) of all genera. The DFT of chimpanzees was significantly higher compared to that of humans (p < 0.01), with a larger alpha (37.6 degrees) and delta angle (54.5 degrees) and smaller beta angle (87.9 degrees). The mean AGA of humans (59.1 degrees) was significantly smaller (p < 0.001) than that of gorillas (68.8 degrees). The mean CGA of humans (110.1 degrees) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than in orangutans (92.9 degrees). Humans and gorillas showed mainly a posterior tilt of their coracoacromial complex whilst chimpanzees showed mainly an anterior tilt. The coracoacromial complex of the orangutans was not tilted anteriorly or posteriorly. With our image-based method, we were able to identify morphological features of the scapula that differed significantly between hominid genera. However, we did not find an overall dichotomy in scapular morphology geared towards high stability (Pan/Gorilla) or high mobility (Homo/Pongo). Further research is needed to investigate the functional implications of these differences in scapular morphology.
Keywords
functional morphology, hominid, primates, scapula, shoulder, HOMINOID SCAPULA, GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS, EVOLUTION, SHAPE, ONTOGENY, SHOULDER, ANATOMY, FORM, LOCOMOTION, TEARS

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Vermeulen, Valérie, et al. “Scapular Morphology of Great Apes and Humans : A Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography-Based Comparative Study.” JOURNAL OF ANATOMY, vol. 242, no. 2, 2023, pp. 164–73, doi:10.1111/joa.13784.
APA
Vermeulen, V., Kozma, E., Delsupehe, A., Cornillie, P., Stock, E., Van Tongel, A., … Vereecke, E. E. (2023). Scapular morphology of great apes and humans : a three-dimensional computed tomography-based comparative study. JOURNAL OF ANATOMY, 242(2), 164–173. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13784
Chicago author-date
Vermeulen, Valérie, Elaine Kozma, Arne Delsupehe, Pieter Cornillie, Emmelie Stock, Alexander Van Tongel, Lieven De Wilde, and Evie E. Vereecke. 2023. “Scapular Morphology of Great Apes and Humans : A Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography-Based Comparative Study.” JOURNAL OF ANATOMY 242 (2): 164–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13784.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Vermeulen, Valérie, Elaine Kozma, Arne Delsupehe, Pieter Cornillie, Emmelie Stock, Alexander Van Tongel, Lieven De Wilde, and Evie E. Vereecke. 2023. “Scapular Morphology of Great Apes and Humans : A Three-Dimensional Computed Tomography-Based Comparative Study.” JOURNAL OF ANATOMY 242 (2): 164–173. doi:10.1111/joa.13784.
Vancouver
1.
Vermeulen V, Kozma E, Delsupehe A, Cornillie P, Stock E, Van Tongel A, et al. Scapular morphology of great apes and humans : a three-dimensional computed tomography-based comparative study. JOURNAL OF ANATOMY. 2023;242(2):164–73.
IEEE
[1]
V. Vermeulen et al., “Scapular morphology of great apes and humans : a three-dimensional computed tomography-based comparative study,” JOURNAL OF ANATOMY, vol. 242, no. 2, pp. 164–173, 2023.
@article{01GTGVX2WF31W72M68P2VXJGNW,
  abstract     = {{The primate scapula has been studied widely since its shape has been shown to correlate with how the forelimb is used in daily activities. In this study, we expand on the existing literature and use an image-based methodology that was originally developed for orthopaedic practice to quantify and compare the three-dimensional (3D) morphology of the scapula across humans and great apes. We expect that this image-based approach will allow us to identify differences between great apes and humans that can be related to differences in mobility and loading regime of the shoulder. We hypothesize that gorillas and chimpanzees will have a similar scapular morphology, geared towards stability and weight-bearing in knuckle-walking, whilst the scapular morphology of orangutans is expected to be more similar to that of humans given their high glenohumeral mobility associated with their suspensory lifestyle. We made 3D reconstructions of computed tomography scans of 69 scapulae from four hominid genera (Pongo, Gorilla, Pan and Homo). On these 3D bone meshes, the inferior glenoid plane was determined, and subsequently, a set of bony landmarks on the scapular body, coracoid, and acromion were defined. These landmarks allowed us to measure a set of functionally relevant angles which represent acromial overhang, subacromial space and coracoacromial space. The angles that were measured are: the delto-fulcral triangle (DFT), comprising the alpha, beta, and delta angle, the acromion-glenoid angle (AGA), the coracoid-glenoid centre-posterior acromial angle (CGA), the anterior tilt (TA CGA) and the posterior tilt of the CGA (PT CGA). Three observers placed the landmarks on the 3D bone meshes, allowing us to calculate the inter-observer error. The main differences in the DFT were found between humans and the great apes, with small differences between the great apes. The DFT of humans was significantly lower compared to that of the great apes, with the smallest alpha (32.7 degrees), smallest delta (45.7 degrees) and highest beta angle (101.6 degrees) of all genera. The DFT of chimpanzees was significantly higher compared to that of humans (p < 0.01), with a larger alpha (37.6 degrees) and delta angle (54.5 degrees) and smaller beta angle (87.9 degrees). The mean AGA of humans (59.1 degrees) was significantly smaller (p < 0.001) than that of gorillas (68.8 degrees). The mean CGA of humans (110.1 degrees) was significantly higher (p < 0.001) than in orangutans (92.9 degrees). Humans and gorillas showed mainly a posterior tilt of their coracoacromial complex whilst chimpanzees showed mainly an anterior tilt. The coracoacromial complex of the orangutans was not tilted anteriorly or posteriorly. With our image-based method, we were able to identify morphological features of the scapula that differed significantly between hominid genera. However, we did not find an overall dichotomy in scapular morphology geared towards high stability (Pan/Gorilla) or high mobility (Homo/Pongo). Further research is needed to investigate the functional implications of these differences in scapular morphology.}},
  author       = {{Vermeulen, Valérie and  Kozma, Elaine and  Delsupehe, Arne and Cornillie, Pieter and Stock, Emmelie and Van Tongel, Alexander and De Wilde, Lieven and  Vereecke, Evie E.}},
  issn         = {{0021-8782}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF ANATOMY}},
  keywords     = {{functional morphology,hominid,primates,scapula,shoulder,HOMINOID SCAPULA,GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS,EVOLUTION,SHAPE,ONTOGENY,SHOULDER,ANATOMY,FORM,LOCOMOTION,TEARS}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{164--173}},
  title        = {{Scapular morphology of great apes and humans : a three-dimensional computed tomography-based comparative study}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13784}},
  volume       = {{242}},
  year         = {{2023}},
}

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