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Three-dimensional analysis of sexual dimorphism in human thoracic vertebrae: Implications for the respiratory system and spine morphology

AuthorsBastir, Markus ; Higuero, Antonio; Ríos, Luis; García-Martínez, Daniel
Issue Date30-Aug-2014
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology 155(4): 513-521 (2014)
Abstract© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sexual dimorphism is important for intraspecific variation and well studied in the human skeleton. In the thoracic part of the spine sexual dimorphism is expected for differences in the respiratory system related to body mass, lung capacity, and energetics, and in the reproductive system for adaptations to pregnancy (lower spine lordosis, posture). However, little is known about sexual dimorphism in this anatomical region. We use three-dimensional (3D)-geometric morphometrics to test hypotheses on sexual dimorphism in the first 10 thoracic vertebrae (T1-T10). Forty-six 3Dlandmarks were measured on vertebrae of 24 adult females and males of known age and sex. Results confirm that male vertebrae are consistently larger than female ones. Males show more dorsally oriented transverse processes and relatively larger vertebral bodies in upper and lower thoracic vertebrae. Sexual dimorphism in lower thoracic vertebrae affects the orientation of the spinous processes, which is more horizontal in females but more caudal in males. Such regional pattering of sexual dimorphism emerges also from principal component analyses reflecting a complex interaction between the effects of sex and serial position on shape variation. Greater dorsal orientation of male transverse processes reorients the ribs and could lead to greater radial thorax diameters. This fits with greater male respiratory capacities, but may indicate also greater invagination of the male spine within the thorax. Horizontal orientation of the spinous processes in females could allow for a greater thoraco-lumbar lordosis during pregnancy, but more comparative research is necessary to test these hypotheses.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1002/ajpa.22604
e-issn: 1096-8644
issn: 0002-9483
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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