Covariation between the shape and mineralized tissues of the rib cross section in Homo sapiens, Pan troglodytes and Sts 14

José M. López-Rey, Óscar Cambra-Moo, Armando González Martín, Nieves Candelas González, Ángeles Sánchez-Andrés, Mirriam Tawane, Marine Cazenave, Scott A. Williams, Markus Bastir, Daniel García-Martínez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: Studying rib torsion is crucial for understanding the evolution of the hominid ribcage. Interestingly, there are variables of the rib cross section that could be associated with rib torsion and, consequently, with the morphology of the thorax. The aim of this research is to conduct a comparative study of the shape and mineralized tissues of the rib cross section in different hominids to test for significant differences and, if possible, associate them to different thoracic morphotypes. Materials and Methods: The sample consists of the rib cross sections at the midshaft taken from 10 Homo sapiens and 10 Pan troglodytes adult individuals, as well as from A. africanus Sts 14. The shape of these rib cross sections was quantified using geometric morphometrics, while the mineralized tissues were evaluated using the compartmentalization index. Subsequently, covariation between both parameters was tested by a Spearman's ρ test, a permutation test and a linear regression. Results: Generally, P. troglodytes individuals exhibit rib cross sections that are rounder and more mineralized compared to those of H. sapiens. However, the covariation between both parameters was only observed in typical ribs (levels 3–10). Although covariation was not found in the rib cross sections of Sts 14, their parameters are closer to P. troglodytes. Discussion: On the one hand, the differences observed in the rib cross sections between H. sapiens and P. troglodytes might be related to different degrees of rib torsion and, consequently, to different thoracic 3D configurations. These findings can be functionally explained by considering their distinct modes of breathing and locomotion. On the other hand, although the rib cross sections belonging to Sts 14 are more similar to those of P. troglodytes, previous publications determined that their overall morphology is closer to modern humans. This discrepancy could reflect a diversity of post-cranial adaptations in Australopithecus.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)157-164
    Number of pages8
    JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2024


    • compartmentalization index
    • geometric morphometrics
    • mineralized tissues
    • rib cross section
    • thorax

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Epidemiology
    • Anatomy
    • Anthropology
    • Genetics
    • Archaeology
    • Palaeontology


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