Interpreting skeletal growth in the past from a functional and physiological perspective

Christopher B. Ruff, Evan Garofalo, Megan A. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The study of juvenile skeletal remains can yield important insights into the health, behavior, and biological relationships of past populations. However, most studies of past skeletal growth have been limited to relatively simple metrics. Considering additional skeletal parameters and taking a broader physiological perspective can provide a more complete assessment of growth patterns and environmental and genetic effects on those patterns. We review here some alternative approaches to ontogenetic studies of archaeological and paleontological skeletal material, including analyses of body size (stature and body mass) and cortical bone structure of long bone diaphyses and the mandibular corpus. Together such analyses can shed new light on both systemic and localized influences on bone growth, and the metabolic and mechanical factors underlying variation in growth. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • body mass
  • cortical bone
  • long bone structure
  • mandibular structure
  • stature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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