Enthesophytes: correlation of bony growth at tendon insertion sites with socio-demographic factors in European and African American individuals
Mincher, Claire E.
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Individualization of skeletal remains is a critical component of archaeological and forensic investigations. Bone growth at tendon insertion sites, or enthesophytes, have been researched as individualizing musculoskeletal stress markers and were previously shown to relate to age, body mass, and possibly occupation; however, no such research exists regarding ancestral correlations. Research shows that African American bone density is significantly higher than other ancestral groups; thus, it is hypothesized that African Americans have a higher tendency for additional bone growth in relation to age, body mass, and occupation. To test this hypothesis, 230 individuals from the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were analyzed following previously established and revised standards for scoring enthesophyte development in the upper and lower limbs. The individuals were of European American (n=176) and African American (n=54) ancestry, and were scored at random for enthesophyte development before reviewing demographic information. Each tendon insertion site was compared to the demographic information and ancestral origin of the individuals. The results confirm the expected link between enthesophyte development with age and body mass, along with a possibility that African Americans display greater bone development at tendon insertion sites. Further, upper limb scores displayed stronger correlations with demographic information than the lower limb, providing a better focus for future research. The correlation of enthesophyte development with demographic information may aid in anthropological investigations, providing an additional method for individualization and identification of biomechanical stresses in skeletal remains.