Regional, ontogenetic, and sex-related variations in elastic properties of cortical bone in baboon mandibles. Academic Article uri icon


  • Understanding the mechanical features of cortical bone and their changes with growth and adaptation to function plays an important role in our ability to interpret the morphology and evolution of craniofacial skeletons. We assessed the elastic properties of cortical bone of juvenile and adult baboon mandibles using ultrasonic techniques. Results showed that, overall, cortical bone from baboon mandibles could be modeled as an orthotropic elastic solid. There were significant differences in the directions of maximum stiffness, thickness, density, and elastic stiffness among different functional areas, indicating regional adaptations. After maturity, the cortical bone becomes thicker, denser, and stiffer, but less anisotropic. There were differences in elastic properties of the corpus and ramus between male and female mandibles which are not observed in human mandibles. There were correlations between cortical thicknesses and densities, between bone elastic properties and microstructural configuration, and between the directions of maximum stiffness and bone anatomical axes in some areas. The relationships between bone extrinsic and intrinsic properties bring us insights into the integration of form and function in craniofacial skeletons and suggest that we need to consider both macroscopic form, microstructural variation, and the material properties of bone matrix when studying the functional properties and adaptive nature of the craniofacial skeleton in primates. The differences between baboon and human mandibles is at variance to the pattern of differences in crania, suggesting differences in bone adaption to varying skeletal geometries and loading regimes at both phylogenetic and ontogenetic levels.

published proceedings

  • Am J Phys Anthropol

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, Q., Ashley, D. W., & Dechow, P. C.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Qian||Ashley, Dennis W||Dechow, Paul C

publication date

  • April 2010