Exploring Phylogenetic and Functional Signals in Complex Morphologies: The Hamate of Extant Anthropoids as a Test-Case Study

Sergio Almécija, Caley M. Orr, Matthew W. Tocheri, Biren A. Patel, William L. Jungers

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    18 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Three-dimensional geometric morphometrics (3DGM) is a powerful tool for capturing and visualizing the "pure" shape of complex structures. However, these shape differences are sometimes difficult to interpret from a functional viewpoint, unless specific approaches (mostly based on biomechanical modeling) are employed. Here, we use 3DGM to explore the complex shape variation of the hamate, the disto-ulnar wrist bone, in anthropoid primates. Major trends of shape variation are explored using principal components analysis along with analyses of shape and size covariation. We also evaluate the phylogenetic patterning of hamate shape by plotting an anthropoid phylogenetic tree onto the shape space (i.e., phylomorphospace) and test against complete absence of phylogenetic signal using posterior permutation. Finally, the covariation of hamate shape and locomotor categories is explored by means of 2-block partial least squares (PLS) using shape coordinates and a matrix of data on arboreal locomotor behavior. Our results show that 3DGM is a valuable and versatile tool for characterizing the shape of complex structures such as wrist bones in anthropoids. For the hamate, a significant phylogenetic pattern is found in both hamate shape and size, indicating that closely related taxa are typically the most similar in hamate form. Our allometric analyses show that major differences in hamate shape among taxa are not a direct consequence of differences in hamate size. Finally, our PLS indicates a significant covariation of hamate shape and different types of arboreal locomotion, highlighting the relevance of this approach in future 3DGM studies seeking to capture a functional signal from complex biological structures. Anat Rec, 298:212-229, 2015.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)212-229
    JournalAnatomical Record
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • 3D geometric morphometrics
    • Shape-function complex
    • Wrist morphology


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