Evolution of the Hominid Hip

  • Christopher Ruff


The morphology of the hip region, and its functional implications, have figured prominently in discussions of the origin and nature of hominid bipedality (Dart, 1949; Broom and Robinson, 1950; Washburn, 1950; Le Gros Clark, 1955; Mednick, 1955; Napier, 1964, 1967; Day, 1969, 1973; Robinson, 1972; Lovejoy et al., 1973; McHenry, 1975; Wood, 1976; McHenry and Corruccini, 1978; Stern and Susman, 1983, 1991; Susman et al., 1984; Lovejoy, 1988; Berge, 1991; Jungers, 1991). During most of human bipedal gait, the body is balanced over one lower limb (Inman et al., 1981), a biomechanical problem not faced by quadrupeds. The solution to this problem has involved major changes in the form of the human pelvis and proximal femur (as well as structures more distal in the lower limb) from that of our primate quadrupedal contemporaries, and presumably ancestors (Le Gros Clark, 1959).


Femoral Head Femoral Shaft Modern Human Early Hominid Joint Reaction Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abitbol M (1995) Reconstruction of the STS 14 sacrum and pelvis: Australopithecus africanus. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 96:143–158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aiello LC (1992) Allometry and the analysis of size and shape in human evolution. J. Hum. Evol. 22:127–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berge C (1991) Quelle est la significance fonctionelle du pelvis très large de Australopithecus afarensis (AL 228-1)? In Y Coppens and B Senut (eds.): Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés, Cah. Paléoanthrop. Paris: Editions du CNRS, pp. 113–119.Google Scholar
  4. Broom R, and Robinson JT (1950) Notes on the pelves of the fossil ape-men. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 8:489–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cartmill M, and Schmitt D (1996) Pelvic rotation in human walking and running: Implications for early hominid bipedalism. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 22:81.Google Scholar
  6. Dart RA(1949) Innominate fragments of Australopithecus prometheus. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 7:301–333.Google Scholar
  7. Day MH (1969) Femoral fragment of a robust australopithecine from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Nature 221:230–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Day MH (1973) Locomotor features of the lower limb in hominids. Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 33:29–51.Google Scholar
  9. Ducroquet R, Ducroquet J, and Ducroquet P (1968) Walking and Limping. A Study of Normal and Pathological Walking. Philadelphia: Lippincott.Google Scholar
  10. Eberhart HD, Inman VT, and Bresler B (1954) The principle elements in human locomotion. In PE Klopsteg and PD Wilson (eds.): Human Limbs and Their Substitutes. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 437–471.Google Scholar
  11. Feldesman MR, and Lundy JK (1988) Stature estimates for some African Plio-Pleistocene fossil hominids. J. Hum. Evol. 17:583–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Franciscus RG, and Holliday TW (1992) Hindlimb skeletal allometry in Plio-Pleistocene hominids with special reference to A.L. 228-1 (“Lucy”). Bull. et Mém. de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris n.s. 4:5–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Genoves S (1967) Proportionality of the long bones and their relation to stature among Mesoamericans. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 26:67–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Häusler M, and Schmid P (1995) Comparison of the pelves of Sts 14 and AL 228-1: Implications for birth and sexual dimorphism in australopithecines. J. Hum. Evol. 29:363–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hunt K (1994) The evolution of human bipedality: Ecology and functional morphology. J. Hum. Evol. 26:183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Inman VT, Ralston HJ, and Todd F (1981) Human Walking. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  17. Jenkins FA (1972) Chimpanzee bipedalism: Cineradiographic analysis and implication for the evolution of gait. Science 178:877–879.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johanson DC, and Coppens Y (1976) A preliminary anatomical diagnosis of the first Plio/Pleistocene hominid discoveries in the Central Afar, Ethiopia. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 45:217–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johanson DC, and Edey MA (1981) Lucy, The Beginnings of Humankind. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  20. Johanson DC, Lovejoy CO, Kimbel WH, White TD, Ward SC, Bush ME, Latimer BM, and Coppens Y (1982a) Morphology of the Pliocene partial hominid skeleton (A.L. 228-1) from the Hadar formation, Ethiopia. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 57:403–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johanson DC, Taieb M, and Coppens Y (1982b) Pliocene hominids from the Hadar Formation, Ethiopia (1973–1977): Stratigraphic, chronologic, and paleoenvironmental contexts, with notes on hominid morphology and systematics. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 57:373–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jungers WL (1985) Body size and scaling of limb proportions in primates. In WL Jungers (ed.): Size and Scaling in Primate Biology. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 345–381.Google Scholar
  23. Jungers WL (1988a) Lucy’s length: Stature reconstruction in Australopithecus afarensis (A.L. 228-1) with implications for other small-bodied hominids. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 76:227–231.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jungers WL (1988b) New estimates of body size in australopithecines. In FE Grine (ed.): Evolutionary History of the “Robust” Australopithecines. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, pp. 115–125.Google Scholar
  25. Jungers WL (1988c) Relative joint size and hominid locomotor adaptations with implications for the evolution of hominid bipedalism. J. Hum. Evol. 17:247–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jungers WL (1990) Scaling of postcranial joint size in hominoid primates. In FK Jouffroy, MH Stack, and C Niemitz (eds.): Gravity, Posture and Locomotion in Primates. Florence: II Sedicesimo, pp. 87–95.Google Scholar
  27. Jungers WL (1991) A pygmy perspective on body size and shape in Australopithcus afarensis (AL 228-1, “Lucy”). In Y Coppens and B Senut (eds.): Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés, Cah. Paléoanthrop. Paris: Editions du CNRS, pp. 215–224.Google Scholar
  28. Jungers WL, and Stern JT (1983) Body proportions, skeletal allometry and locomotion in the Hadar hominids: A reply to Wolpoff. J. Hum. Evol. 12:673–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Latimer B, Ohman JC, and Lovejoy CO (1987) Talocrural joint in African hominids: Implications for Australopithecus afarensis. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 74:155–175.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Latimer B, and Ward CV (1993) The thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. In A Walker and R Leakey (eds.): The Nariokotome Homo Erectus Skeleton. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, pp. 266–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Le Gros Clark WE (1955) The os innominatum of the recent Ponginae with special reference to that of the Australopithecinae. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 13:19–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Le Gros Clark WE (1959) The Antecedents of Man. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lehmann JF, and De Lateur BJ (1990) Gait analysis: Diagnosis and management. In FJ Kottke and JF Lehmann (eds.): Krusen’s Handbook of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Philadelphia: Saunders, pp. 108–124.Google Scholar
  34. Lovejoy CO (1975) Biomechanical perspectives on the lower limb of early hominids. In RH Tuttle (ed.): Primate Functional Morphology and Evolution. The Hague: Mouton, pp. 291–326.Google Scholar
  35. Lovejoy CO (1988) Evolution of human walking. Sci. Am. 259:118–125.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lovejoy CO, Heiple KG, and Burstein AH (1973) The gait of Australopithecus. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 38:757–780.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McHenry HM (1975) Biomechanical interpretation of the early hominid hip. J. Hum. Evol. 4:343–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McHenry HM (1984) Relative cheek-tooth size in Australopithecus. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 64:291–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McHenry HM (1986) The first bipeds: A comparison of the A. afarensis and A. africanus postcranium and implications for the evolution of bipedalism. J. Hum. Evol. 15:177–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McHenry HM (1988) New estimates of body weight in early hominids and their significance to encephalization and megadontia in “robust” australopithecines. In FE Grine (ed.): Evolutionary History of the “Robust” Australopithecines. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, pp. 133–148.Google Scholar
  41. McHenry HM (1991a) First steps? Analyses of the postcranium of early hominids. In Y Coppens and B Senut (eds.): Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés, Cah. Paléoanthrop. Paris: Editions du CNRS, pp. 133–141.Google Scholar
  42. McHenry HM (1991b) Sexual dimorphism in Australopithecus afarensis. J. Hum. Evol. 20:21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McHenry HM (1992) Body size and proportions in early hominids. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 87:407–431.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McHenry HM (1994) Early hominid postcrania. Phylogeny and function. In RS Corruccini and RL Ciochon (eds.): Integrative Paths to the Past (Advances in Human Evolution Series, Vol. 2). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, pp. 168–251.Google Scholar
  45. McHenry HM, and Corruccini RS (1978) The femur in early human evolution. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 49:473–488.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McLeish RD, and Charnley J (1970) Abduction forces in the one-legged stance. J. Biomech. 3:191–209.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mednick LW (1955) The evolution of the human ilium. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 13:203–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nagurka ML, and Hayes WC (1980) An interactive graphics package for calculating cross-sectional properties of complex shapes. J. Biomech. 13:59–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Napier JR (1964) The evolution of bipedal walking in the hominids. Arch. Biol. (Leige) 75 (Suppl.):673–708.Google Scholar
  50. Napier JR (1967) The antiquity of human walking. Sci. Am. 216:56–66.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Olivier G (1976) The stature of Australopithecus. J. Hum. Evol. 5:529–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Porter AMW (1995) The body weight of AL 228-1 (“Lucy”: A new approach using estimates of skeletal length and the body mass index. Int. J. Osteoarch. 5:203–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Poss R, and Sledge CB (1981) Surgery of the hip in rheumatoid arthritis. In ED Harris, S Ruddy, and CB Sledge (eds.): Textbook of Rheumatology, Vol. II. Philadelphia: Saunders, pp. 1960–1972.Google Scholar
  54. Preuschoft H, and Witte H (1991) Biomechanical reasons for the evolution of hominid body shape. In Y Coppens and B Senut (eds.): Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés, Cah. Paléoanthrop. Paris: ditions du CNRS, pp. 59–77.Google Scholar
  55. Rader WT, and Peters CR (1993) Hypertrophy of the acetabulocristal buttress in Homo sapiens. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 92:149–153.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reynolds TR (1987) Stride length and its determinants in humans, early hominids, primates, and mammals. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 72:101–115.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Robinson JT (1972) Early Hominid Posture and Locomotion. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  58. Rose MD (1984) Food acquisition and the evolution of positional behavior: The case of bipedalism. In DJ Chivers, BA Wood, and A Bilsborough (eds.): Food Acquisition and Processing in Primates. New York: Plenum, pp. 509–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ruff CB (1987a) Sexual dimorphism in human lower limb bone structure: Relationship to subsistence strategy and sexual division of labor. J. Hum. Evol. 16:391–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ruff CB (1987b) Structural allometry of the femur and tibia in Hominoidea and Macaca. Folia. Primatol. 48:9–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ruff CB (1988) Hindlimb articular surface allometry in Hominoidea and Macaca, with comparisons to diaphyseal scaling. J. Hum. Evol. 17:687–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ruff CB (1991) Climate, body size and body shape in hominid evolution. J. Hum. Evol. 21:81–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Ruff CB (1994) Morphological adaptation to climate in modern and fossil hominids. Yrbk. Phys. Anthropol. 37:65–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ruff CB (1995) Biomechanics of the hip and birth in early Homo. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 98:521–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Ruff CB, and Runestad JA (1992) Primate limb bone structural adaptations. Ann. Rev. Anthrop. 21:407–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Ruff CB, Trinkaus E, and Holliday TW (1997) Body mass and encephalization in Pleistocene Homo. Nature 387:173–176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ruff CB, Trinkaus E, Walker A, and Larsen CS (1993) Postcranial robusticity in Homo, I: Temporal trends and mechanical interpretation. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 91:21–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ruff CB, and Walker A (1993) Body size and body shape. In A Walker and R Leakey (eds.): The Nariokotome Homo Erectus Skeleton. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, pp. 234–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Schmid P (1983) Eine rekonstruktion des Skelettes von A.L. 228-1 (Hadar) und deren konsequenzen. Folia Primatol. 40:283–306.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Schmitt D, Stern JR, and Larson SG (1996) Compliant gait in humans: Implications for substrate reaction forces during australopithecine bipedalism. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 22:209.Google Scholar
  71. Stern JT, and Susman RL (1983) The locomotor anatomy of Australopithecus afarensis. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 60:279–317.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Stern JT, and Susman RL (1991) “Total morphological pattern” versus the “magic trait”: Conflicting approaches to the study of early hominid bipedalism. In Y Coppens and B Senut (eds.): Origine(s) de la Bipédie chez les Hominidés, Cah. Paléoanthrop. Paris: Editions du CNRS, pp. 99–111.Google Scholar
  73. Susman RL, Stern JT, Jr., and Jungers WL (1984) Arboreality and bipedality in the Hadar hominids. Folia Primatol. 43:113–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Suzman IM (1980) A new estimate of body weight in South African australopithecines. In RE Leakey and BA Ogot (eds.): Proceedings of the 8th Panafrican Congress of Prehistory and Quaternary Studies Nairobi, 5 to 10 September 1977. Nairobi: The International Louis Leakey Memorial Institute for African Prehistory, pp. 175–179.Google Scholar
  75. Tague RG, and Lovejoy CO (1986) The obstetric pelvis of A.L. 228-1 (Lucy). J. Hum. Evol. 15:237–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Trinkaus E, Churchill SE, and Ruff CB (1994) Postcranial robusticity in Homo, II: Humeral bilateral asymmetry and bone plasticity. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 93:1–34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Walker A (1973) New Australopithecus femora from East Rudolf, Kenya. J. Hum. Evol. 2:545–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Washburn SL (1950) The analysis of primate evolution with particular reference to the origin of man. Cold Spring Harbor Symp. Quant. Biol. 15:67–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Weidenreich F (1941) The extremity bones of Sinanthropus pekinensis. Paleont. Sinica (N.S. D.) 5D: 1–150.Google Scholar
  80. White TD, and Suwa G (1987) Hominid footprints at Laetoli: Facts and interpretations. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 72:485–514.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wolpoff MH (1976) Fossil hominid femora. Nature 264:812–813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wood B (1976) Remains attributable to Homo in East Rudolf succession. In Y Coppens, FC Howell, GL Issac and REF Leakey (eds.): Earliest Man and Environments in the Lake Rudolf Basin. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, pp. 490–506.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Ruff
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology and AnatomyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations