The effects of the industrial transition on lower limb bone structure: A comparison of the inhabitants of Pecos Pueblo and present-day Indigenous peoples of New Mexico

Christopher B. Ruff, Ian J. Wallace, Christopher Toya, Mario Antonio Peña Muñoz, Jana Valesca Meyer, Taylor Busby, Adam Z. Reynolds, Jordan Martinez, Marcus Miller-Moore, Roberto Rios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Comparisons between Indigenous peoples over time and within a particular geographic region can shed light on the impact of environmental transitions on the skeleton, including relative bone strength, sexual dimorphism, and age-related changes. Here we compare long bone structural properties of the inhabitants of the late prehistoric-early historic Pecos Pueblo with those of present-day Indigenous individuals from New Mexico. Materials and Methods: Femora and tibiae of 126 adults from Pecos Pueblo and 226 present-day adults were included in the study. Cross-sectional diaphyseal properties—areas and second moments of area—were obtained from past studies of the Pecos Pueblo skeletal sample, and from computed tomography scans of recently deceased individuals in the present-day sample. Results: Femora and tibiae from Pecos individuals are stronger relative to body size than those of present-day Indigenous individuals. Present-day individuals are taller but not wider, and this body shape difference affects cross-sectional shape, more strongly proximally. The tibia shows anteroposterior strengthening among Pecos individuals, especially among males. Sexual dimorphism in midshaft bone shape is stronger within the Pecos Pueblo sample. With aging, Pecos individuals show more medullary expansion but also more subperiosteal expansion than present-day individuals, maintaining bone strength despite cortical thinning. Discussion: Higher activity levels, carried out over rough terrain and throughout adult life, likely explain the relatively stronger lower limb bones of the Pecos individuals, as well as their greater subperiosteal expansion with aging. Greater sexual dimorphism in bone structure among Pecos individuals potentially reflects greater gender-based differences in behavioral patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • bone strength
  • femur
  • osteoporosis
  • sexual dimorphism
  • tibia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics
  • Archaeology
  • Palaeontology

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