Sexual Dimorphism

Margit Berner, Vladimír Sládek, Brigitte Holt, Markku Niskanen, Christopher B. Ruff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


Sexual dimorphism (SD) in cross-sectional shape of the femur, especially the proximal femur, may also be related to SD in body shape, that is, a greater pelvic breadth in females. Sexual dimorphism of cross-sectional morphology and strength have been examined in Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic samples, and for regionally limited Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Medieval samples. Sexual dimorphism in average strength shows more temporal variability in humeri than in the lower limb bones, as well as distinctive differences between right and left sides. Change in mechanical loading is only one among various factors influencing SD, including genetics, hormones, growth patterns, and nutrition. The largest changes in SD of lower limb bone strength properties occurs between the Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic, corresponding to major changes in sex-related subsistence roles, particularly among males. Variation in upper and lower limb bone strength in males and females is further demonstrated by comparing SD in femoral/humeral strength across temporal periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSkeletal Variation and Adaptation in Europeans
Subtitle of host publicationUpper Paleolithic to the Twentieth Century
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781118628430
ISBN (Print)9781118627969
StatePublished - Dec 19 2017


  • Body shape
  • Bone strength
  • Cross-sectional morphology
  • Femoral strength
  • Humeral strength
  • Mechanical loading
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Temporal variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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