Anatomical variation of habitat related changes in scapular morphology

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Tanzania Veterinary Journal


The mammalian forelimb is adapted to different functions including postural, locomotor, feeding, exploratory, grooming and defense. Comparative studies on morphology of the mammalian scapula have been performed in an attempt to establish the functional differences in the use of the forelimb. In this study, a total of 102 scapulae collected from 66 species of animals, representatives of all major taxa from rodents, sirenians, marsupials, pilosa, cetaceans, carnivores, ungulates, primates and apes were analyzed. Parameters measured included scapular length, width, position, thickness, area, angles and index. Structures included supraspinous and infraspinous fossae, scapular spine, glenoid cavity, acromium and coracoid processes. Images were taken using computed tomographic (CT) scanning technology (CT-Aquarium, Toshiba and micro CT- LaTheta, Hotachi, Japan) and measurement values acquired and processed using Avizo computer software and CanvasTM 11 ACD systems. Statistical analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel 2013. Results obtained showed that there were similar morphological characteristics of scapula in mammals with arboreal locomotion and living in forest and mountainous areas but differed from those with leaping and terrestrial locomotion living in open habitat or savannah. The cause for the statistical grouping of the animals signifies presence of the close relationship between habitat and scapular morphology and in a way that corresponds to type of locomotion and speed. The morphological characteristics of the scapula and functional interpretation of the parameters in relation to habitat of each taxon is discussed in detail.



Mammalian, Scapula, Morphology, CT analysis


Luziga, C., & Wada, N. (2018). Anatomical variation of habitat related changes in scapular morphology. Tanzania Veterinary Journal, 36, 89-96. Retrieved from