Cross-sectional morphology of the SK 82 and 97 proximal femora

Christopher B. Ruff, Henry M. McHenry, J. Francis Thackeray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Computed tomography scans of the proximal femoral shaft of the South African 'robust' australopithecine, A. robustus, reveal a total morphological pattern that is similar to the specimen attributed to A. boisei in East Africa but unlike that of Homo erectus or modern human femora. Like femora attributed to H. erectus, SK 82 and 97 have very thick cortices, although they do not have the extreme increase in mediolateral buttressing that is so characteristic of H. erectus. And unlike H. erectus or modern humans, their femoral heads are very small relative to shaft strength. These features are consistent with both increased overall mechanical loading of the postcranial skeleton and a possibly slightly altered pattern of bipedal gait relative to that of H. erectus and modern humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-521
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999


  • Australopithecus
  • Biomechanics
  • Femur
  • Gait
  • Paranthropus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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