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Book review Skeleton Keys An Introduction To Human Skeletal Morphology Development And Analysis.

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Book Reviews
Alejandro Estrada, Paul A. Garber, Mary Pavelka,
and LeAndra Luecke. New York: Springer. 2006. 600 pp.
ISBN 0-387-25854-X. $139.00 (Hardcover).
This volume is a compilation of chapters by a list of
authors that reads as a who’s who of Mesoamerican primatology. It represents a long overdue effort to provide
an up-to-date review of primatological research in the
Mesoamerican region, which includes countries ranging
from the southern states of Mexico through to Panama.
Primates in this region live in a wide variety of habitats,
consume a wide variety of foods, and face increasing
pressure from expanding human populations, resulting
in widespread habitat destruction and fragmentation.
Mesoamerica is geologically and ecologically distinct
from South America, and many of the primate species
living there show unique behaviors and ecological adaptations not seen in their South American counterparts.
As such, the potential for this volume to be a substantial
addition to the primatological literature is obvious.
Part 1, ‘‘Taxonomy and Biogeography,’’ includes two
chapters. In Chapter 1 the editors introduce us to the
volume, the region, and the primates that inhabit it.
They clearly outline the conservation issues, related
largely to human population increases, and discuss how
the various countries of the region are dealing with
these issues. Chapter 2 is a very thorough taxonomic
review of all of the primate taxa in the region. That
said, I find it surprising that the authors follow the outdated spider-monkey (Ateles) taxonomy published by
Kellogg and Goldman in 1944. Chapter 3 is a very interesting and useful overview of the biogeographical history
of the region’s primate taxa and provides detailed maps
and a sound model for the movement of primates from
South America into the region.
Part 2, ‘‘Population Responses to Disturbances,’’ includes five chapters that examine the impact that disturbances such as habitat fragmentation, hurricanes, and
parasitic infections may have on feeding ecology, as well
as population density, structure, and demography. As
with the rest of the volume, this section is heavily
focused on howler monkeys, with four of the five chapters focusing on Alouatta pigra. Part 3, ‘‘Behavior and
Ecology,’’ includes eight chapters and is the most taxonomically diverse section of the book, with four chapters
focusing exclusively on Cebus capucinus. However, in
trying to increase the taxonomic diversity of the chapters
By Jeffrey H. Schwartz. New York: Oxford University
Press. 2007. 416 pp. ISBN 0-195-18859-4. $76.95 (hardcover).
This is an excellent text for students who are taking
a course in or conducting research in the areas of human
osteology, human skeletal variation, bioarchaeology, and
paleoanthropology. The book discusses both the fundaC 2008
included in the volume, the editors have included chapters
on behavior and reproduction (e.g., Chapters 15 and 16)
that seem out of place. Although very interesting pieces in
their own right, why they were included in this volume is
not clear. Indeed, if this entire section were removed, the
central theme of the volume would become much clearer.
Part 4, ‘‘Conservation and Management Policies,’’ contains six chapters and builds on the theme fleshed out in
Part 2. Topics range from mapping primate populations
in various regions (including Mayan archaeological sites)
to the use of agro-ecosystems by primates and the role
that human agricultural practices may have in maintaining primate populations. Part 5, ‘‘Synopsis and Perspectives,’’ consists of a commentary chapter by the editors in which they revisit and discuss many of the topics
included in the various chapters. They also discuss the
need for more research in the area, especially on Aotus,
Saimiri, and Saguinus, about which there is very little
known. However, their statement that ‘‘long-term field
studies of A. geoffroyi have yet to be conducted’’ (p 568)
unfortunately fails to recognize the long-term projects
that have been or are being carried out in Costa Rica,
Mexico, and Panama.
One might construe from the title of this volume that
there would be representative chapters on the six genera
of primates represented in Mesoamerica: Alouatta, Aotus,
Ateles, Cebus, Saguinus, and Saimiri. However, the volume is highly biased towards the two species of howler
monkeys (Alouatta pigra and A. palliata) present in the
region, and even though the editors acknowledge this in
their introductory chapter, one cannot help but be disappointed. As such, this book would be very useful to
researchers interested in the ecology, conservation, and
distribution of howler monkeys. However, to those interested in other Mesoamerican taxa or in the social behavior of howler monkeys the volume is far less appealing. In
Chapter 1 the editors state that ‘‘The goal of this volume
is to present a comprehensive overview of the most recent
advances in primate field research, ecology and conservation biology in Mesoamerica’’ (p 14). In my opinion,
unfortunately, they did not achieve this goal.
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
University of California
Los Angeles, CA
DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20768
Published online 10 January 2008 in Wiley InterScience
mentals of human skeletal biology and the theoretical
underpinnings that need to be considered when conducting human skeletal research. The book is divided into 10
chapters and two appendices. As noted by Schwartz in
the preface, the format of this second edition has been
changed from that of the first edition, with the repositioning of various chapters, the inclusion in chapter text
of information that previously appeared in appendices,
and the expansion of the glossary.
Chapter 1 begins with an introduction to skeletal
anatomy, development, physiology, and bone biochemistry. This chapter provides a thorough discussion of
anatomical terminology, units of the skeleton and their
articulations, bone anatomy including discussions of
macro- and micromorphology, and excellent coverage of
osteogenesis (bone formation) and growth abnormalities.
Several tables list common anatomical terms and their
definitions related to direction and position, major planes,
and movement, which frees the text from being overburdened by them. The chapter concludes with a section on
other pathological aspects of bone growth and physiology
and a discussion of bone biochemistry and diet.
Chapters 2 and 3 begin the detailed morphological discussion of the skeleton with the introduction of the skull
as a unit and its individual bones, respectively. Chapter 2,
‘‘The Skull,’’ is divided into two sections, which address
external and internal skull morphology. Accompanying
this discussion are comprehensive tables and detailed
black-and-white line drawings listing and illustrating
osteometric landmarks and anatomical regions. Chapter 3,
‘‘Individual Bones of the Skull,’’ then provides detailed
morphology for each bone and features utilized for correct
identification. An additional section dealing with the development and ossification of each bone is a significant contribution beyond that seen in other human osteology texts.
Chapters 4–6 address the infracranial skeleton, with
the skeletal elements presented in a regional manner.
Chapter 4 deals with the postcranial axial skeleton,
Chapter 5 with the upper limb, and Chapter 6 with the
lower limb. As with the chapters on the skull, each of
these chapters provides a thorough discussion of the
basic and detailed morphology of each skeletal element,
a section dealing with the development and ossification
of each bone, as well as a table providing features which
serve as ‘‘clues’’ for siding individual elements.
Chapter 7 addresses the teeth, beginning with a discussion of the basic gross dental anatomy and then the
anatomical terminology associated with tooth surfaces
and orientation. Information on the differentiation of
deciduous and permanent teeth, a detailed discussion
of crown anatomy, and nomenclature for each tooth type
are followed by a summary of permanent and deciduous
tooth identifications. Unlike the preceding chapters, however, Schwartz provides detailed narratives on the siding
of individual teeth rather than a table. This chapter continues with discussions of enamel (normal and other
features), supernumerary teeth and tooth agenesis, and
tooth eruption and root formation, and concludes with
crown development and its regulation. This chapter on
teeth is one of the most thorough and comprehensive I
have seen in a human osteology text.
The next three chapters go beyond the detailed morphology of the various skeletal elements and teeth and
proceed into the methodologies utilized in the assessment of individual biological profiles (e.g., age, sex, biological affinity, etc.), as well as population skeletal
assemblages. Chapter 8 deals with aging. The chapter
presents the most reliable and accurate methods available for each of the three life stages utilized by
Schwartz: child, juvenile, and adult. Methods discussed
include dental formation and eruption, cranial and postcranial bone growth, development and epiphyseal union,
pubic symphysis and auricular surface morphology, sternal rib-end morphology, and age-related histological
changes. Each method is thoroughly explained and excel-
lent illustrations and tables are provided, which support
and supplement the text.
Chapter 9 is a composite chapter dealing with differentially expressed morphological character states that
are utilized in the assessment of nonmetric variation of
populations, sex determination, and population and biological affinity assessments. In addition to discussing
specific morphological features related to the investigation and assessment of the areas of interest listed above,
Schwartz delves into the theoretical basis behind the biological basis of nonmetric cranial, postcranial, and dental
traits; the rationale of investigating these features; the
appropriateness of various statistical analytical methods;
and how the results obtained from these investigations
should be interpreted. And finally, in Chapter 10, pathology is discussed. This chapter focuses on diseases of bone,
infectious and noninfectious, and provides detailed discussion of the skeletal manifestations of various pathologies.
There are many positive features of this text. The
inclusion of detailed and comprehensive tables in all of
the chapters provides valuable supportive and supplementary information to the reader. The excellent blackand-white line drawings and figures effectively illustrate
items discussed in the text. However, the text’s most
unique asset is the accompanying CD-ROM of almost all
the black-and-white images, as well as images of fetal,
perinatal, subadult, and adult individuals. These images
greatly enhance and effectively illustrate the material
presented in the text. The only thing that could have
made this CD better would have been the inclusion of
the images from Chapters 1 and 2. There is only one
negative item I wish to address. Though Schwartz provided tables of ‘‘clues’’ to the siding of individual skeletal
elements, I would have liked to have seen text narratives, similar to those he provided for each tooth type,
discussing the siding of individual elements. A table of
‘‘clues’’ may not be sufficient for inexperienced students
to accurately side bones.
Overall, Skeleton Keys is an excellent text and resource
for the classroom and osteology laboratory. Schwartz has
gone beyond the detailed discussion of skeletal morphology to highlight the methodological and theoretical considerations that need to be addressed when conducting
human osteological investigations. Schwartz hopes to
‘‘provoke the readers of this book to pursue new avenues
of research’’ (p. xiii), and I believe the topics discussed in
the text and the inclusion of individual specimen images
on the CD may do just that. Though the book is relatively
expensive, I feel it is well worth the money given the
excellent quality of the text, illustrations, and tables, and
the outstanding images on the accompanying CD. This
book is a valid alternative to the traditional textbooks
that are currently utilized in undergraduate and graduate
human osteology courses and well worth including in
one’s biological anthropology reference library.
Department of Anthropology
Lehman College–City University
of New York
Bronx, New York
DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20769
Published online 27 December 2007 in Wiley InterScience
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
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