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Bilateral Asymmetry in the Human Pelvis

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Asymmetry of the human axial skeleton has received much less attention that of the limb skeleton. Pelvic morphology is subject to multiple selective factors, including bipedal locomotion and obstetrics, among others, as well as environmental factors such as biomechanical loading. How these various factors influence or restrict asymmetry of the pelvis is unknown and few studies have investigated levels and patterns of pelvic asymmetry. This study examines percentage directional (%DA) and absolute (%AA) asymmetry in 14 bilaterally paired dimensions of the pelvic canal, non‐canal pelvis, and femur in female (n = 111) and male (n = 126) skeletons from nine geographically dispersed skeletal samples. Directional asymmetries were uniformly low for all measures and lacked any consistent patterning across the variables, while %AA was highest in the pelvic canal, particularly the posterior aspects. Few sex differences and no population differences were found for %DA and %AA; however the latter was correlated with coefficients of variation across the 14 variables in both sexes. While sample mean %DA were low, standard deviations of the canal variables were high and the majority of individuals in both sexes displayed %DA values >±0.5, suggesting asymmetry is common, if not directionally consistent. Biomechanical loading of the pelvic girdle may influence asymmetry of both the canal and non‐canal aspects of the pelvis; however it is unlikely that these asymmetries negatively affect obstetric function, given the prevalence for %DA found in this study. Anat Rec, 300:653–665, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Keywords: absolute asymmetry; directional asymmetry; hip; obstetrical dilemma; pelvic

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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