case western reserve university





Bruce Latimer, Ph.D.

Evolution of the Human Locomotor Skeleton

Of all human evolutionary adaptations, the most pervasive in its anatomical influence is bipedality - the ability to walk habitually on two legs. This peculiar adaptation is at least four million years old and clearly predates that other uniquely human character, the large brain. Indeed, the anatomical hallmarks that are used to recognize early human ancestors are largely those associated with upright walking.

Our research focus is on the evolutionary development of early hominids, particularly the Plio-Pleistocene aged Australopithecus fossils recovered from the Middle Awash and Hadar regions of Ethiopia. Field work in eastern Africa is combined with laboratory analyses of the fossils to examine the anatomical adaptations that occurred during the transition from quadrupedality to bipedality. Types of analyses include skeletal biomechanics, the functional anatomy and evolution of the hominid locomotor skeleton, and growth and development of the musculoskeletal system.

Selected References:

Latimer, B., C.V. Ward. The thoracic and lumbar vertebrae., in A. Walker and R. Leakey, eds., The Nariokotome Homo Erectus Skeleton. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 266-293, 1993.

Jellema, L. M., B. Latimer,., A. Walker, The rib cage., in A. Walker and Richard Leakey, eds., The Nariokotome Homo Erectus Skeleton. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 294-325, 1993.

Ohman J.C., T.J. Krochta, C.O. Lovejoy, R.P. Mensforth, and B. Latimer. Cortical Bone Distribution in the Femoral Neck of Hominoids: Implications for the Locomotion of Australopithecus afarensis. Amer. J. of Phys. Anthro. 104:117-131, 1997.

Lovejoy C., R. Meindle, R. Tague, and B. Latimer. The comparative senescent biology of the hominid pelvis and its implications for the use of age-at-death indicators in the human skeleton. In: Integrating Archeological Demography: Multidisciplinary approaches to prehistoric populations. Ed. RR Paine, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, occasional paper No. 24, 43-63, 1997.

Dept. of Anatomy | 10900 Euclid Ave. | Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4930 | Phone:216.368.2433|
2004 Case Western Reserve University | Cleveland, Ohio 44106 | 216.368.2000 | legal notice