Skip to main content

Exploring the effects of insularity on skeletal growth dynamics in ancient humans and fossil rats from Indonesia

Miszkiewicz, Justyna J., Mahoney, Patrick, Louys, Julien, O'Connor, Sue, Bellwood, Peter (2017) Exploring the effects of insularity on skeletal growth dynamics in ancient humans and fossil rats from Indonesia. In: Australasian Society for Human Biology 32nd Annual Conference, 05-07 Aug 2018, Queensland, Australia. (Unpublished) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:76161)

XML Word Processing Document (DOCX) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication


While there is much evidence for insularity manifesting in living populations, little is known about its effect on skeletal growth dynamics in prehistoric humans and other animals. Here, we reconstruct: 1) femur bone metabolism in ten Timor Island giant and small fossil (late Quaternary ca. 5- 18ka) rats, 2) femur bone and tooth enamel growth links in three adult males of 152.9- 164 cm stature, recovered from the Maluku Islands (BCE/CE junction Morotai, and 2314–1415 cal. BP Gebe). Osteocyte lacunae density (Ot.Dn) and products of bone remodelling were recorded in human and rat femoral midshaft thin sections. Lateral enamel daily secretion (DSR) and root extension rates were calculated from upper first and second human molar histology. Results reveal significant and negative relationships between Ot.Dn and rat body size, with giant specimens showing low Ot.Dn (Rho min. = -0.891, max. = -0.976). The DSR of 3.9μm (mid-enamel) to 4.6μm (outer enamel) for the human crowns is similar to modern day molars, but the daily extension rate of 7.61μm over the first 2 mm of root growth is faster than the rate roots form over this distance in modern clinical samples. Bone remodelling data indicated increased bone deposition (21.18– 27.86#/mm2 ) despite the short adult stature. Findings from our ancient human and rat model experiment suggest that island living may affect internal dynamics of skeletal growth. Giant rats may have slowed down their bone metabolism, whereas short humans increased their growth rates to facilitate a physiological adaptation to island environments

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Patrick Mahoney
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2019 14:29 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mahoney, Patrick:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year