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Knee function through finite element analysis and the role of Miocene hominoids in our understanding of the origin of antipronograde behaviours: the Pierolapithecus catalaunicus patella as a case study

Citation

Pina, Marta et al. (2020), Knee function through finite element analysis and the role of Miocene hominoids in our understanding of the origin of antipronograde behaviours: the Pierolapithecus catalaunicus patella as a case study, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.453dg14

Abstract

Although extensive research has been carried out in recent years on human bipedalism origin and evolution, a full understanding of this question is far to be achieved. In this regard, the role of Miocene hominoids emerges as key to better comprehend the locomotor types observed in living apes and humans. Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, an extinct stem great ape from the middle Miocene (c. 12.0 Ma) of the Vallès-Penedès Basin (NE Iberian Peninsula), is the first undoubted hominoid with an orthograde (erected) body plan. Its locomotor repertoire included above-branch quadrupedalism and other antipronograde behaviours. Elucidating the adaptive features present in the Pierolapithecus skeleton and its associated biomechanics helps us to better understand the origin of hominoid orthogrady. This work represents a new biomechanical perspective on the Pierolapithecus locomotion, by studying its patella among a large sample of extant anthropoids. This is the first time that the biomechanical patellar performance in living non-human anthropoids and a stem hominid is studied through Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Differences in stress distribution are found depending on body plan and the presence/absence of a distal apex, probably due to dissimilar biomechanical performances. Pierolapithecus’ biomechanical response mainly resembles that of great apes, suggesting a similar knee joint use in mechanical terms. These results underpin previous studies on Pierolapithecus, favouring the idea that a relevant degree of some antipronograde behaviour may have made up part of its locomotor repertoire. Moreover, our results corroborate the presence of modern great ape-like knee biomechanical performances back in the Miocene.

Usage Notes

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: P17394

Leakey Foundation

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: KA 1525/9‐2