Structural properties of the Late Pleistocene Liujiang femoral diaphyses from southern China

Pianpian Wei, Marine Cazenave, Yuhao Zhao*, Song Xing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The characterization of the femoral diaphysis in Pleistocene hominins with chronoecogeographical diversity plays a crucial role in evaluating evolutionary shifts in locomotor behavior and body shape. However, Pleistocene hominin fossil remains in East Asia are scarce and are widely dispersed temporally and spatially, impeding our comprehension of the nature and polarity of morphological trends. Here, we present qualitative and quantitative analyses of the cross-sectional properties and structural organization of diaphyses in two Late Pleistocene hominin femora (Liujiang PA91 and PA92) from southern China, comparing them to other Eurasian and African Pleistocene hominins. By integrating surface features and internal structure, our findings reveal that the Liujiang femora exhibit modern human-like characteristics, including a developed pilaster, a gluteal buttress, and minimum mediolateral breadth located at the midshaft. The presence of a femoral pilaster may relate to posterior cortical reinforcement and an increased anteroposterior bending rigidity along the mid-proximal to mid-distal portion of the diaphysis. Compared to archaic Homo, Liujiang and other Late Pleistocene modern human femora show a thinner mediolateral cortex and lower bending rigidity than the anteroposterior axis, and a lack of medial buttress, potentially indicating functionally related alterations in a range of pelvic and proximal femoral features throughout the Pleistocene. The femoral robusticity of the Liujiang individual resembles that of other Pleistocene hunter–gatherers from East Asia, implying comparable overall mobility or activity levels. The investigation of Liujiang femoral diaphyseal morphology contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of early modern human postcranial structural morphology in East Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103424
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-sectional properties
  • Diaphyseal morphology
  • East Asia
  • Modern human


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