Reevaluation of the lumbosacral region of Oreopithecus bambolii


Reevaluation of the lumbosacral region of Oreopithecus bambolii


Russo G A; Shapiro L J


Journal of Human Evolution




Functional interpretations of the postcranium of the late Miocene ape Oreopithecus bambolii are controversial. The claim that Oreopithecus practiced habitual terrestrial bipedalism is partly based on restored postcranial remains originally recovered from Baccinello, Tuscany (Kohler and Moya-Sola, 1997). The lower lumbar vertebrae of BA#72 were cited as evidence that Oreopithecus exhibits features indicative of a lordotic lumbar spine, including dorsal wedging of the vertebral bodies and a caudally progressive increase in postzygapophyseal interfacet distance. Here, we demonstrate why the dorsal wedging index value obtained by Miller and Moya-Sola (1997) for the BA#72 last lumbar vertebra is questionable due to distortion in that region, present a more reliable way to measure postzygapophyseal interfacet distance, and include an additional metric (laminar width) with which to examine changes in the transverse dimensions of the neural arches. We also quantify the external morphology of the BA#72 proximal sacrum, which, despite well-documented links between sacral morphology and bipedal locomotion, and excellent preservation of the sacral prezygapophyses, first sacral vertebral body, and right ala, was not evaluated by Kohler and Moya-Sola (1997). Measures of postzygapophyseal interfacet distance and laminar width on the penultimate and last lumbar vertebrae of BA#72 reveal a pattern encompassed within the range of living nonhuman hominoids and unlike that of modern humans, suggesting that Oreopithecus did not possess a lordotic lumbar spine. Results further show that the BA#72 sacrum exhibits relatively small prezygapophyseal articular facet surface areas and mediolaterally narrow alae compared with modern humans, indicating that the morphology of the Oreopithecus sacrum is incompatible with the functional demands of habitual bipedal stance and locomotion. The Oreopithecus lumbosacral region does not exhibit adaptations for habitual bipedal locomotion. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Anthropology; ape oreopithecus; australopithecus-afarensis; Bipedalism; body size; Evolutionary Biology; functional-morphology; grip capability; locomotor skeleton; Lumbar vertebrae; Lumbar vertebrae; morphometric-analysis; Oreopithecus; positional behavior; Sacrum; sexual-dimorphism


Journal Article

Search for Full-text

Users with a NEOMED Library login can search for full-text journal articles at the following url:


Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).








Russo G A; Shapiro L J, “Reevaluation of the lumbosacral region of Oreopithecus bambolii,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed July 14, 2024,