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    This study investigated cross-sectional morphological differences in the diaphysis of the third metacarpal bone (MC3) between prehistoric Jomon hunter-gatherers and modern Japanese people. Overall, 179 skeletal remains of 119 individuals (73 men and 46 women) from the Middle-to-Final Jomon period (3500 BC-500 BC) and 60 modern Japanese people (35 men and 25 women) were included in the analysis. Analyses were performed at the mid-shaft of the MC3 using linear measurement, elliptic Fourier analysis, and cross-sectional geometric properties. The standardized polar section modulus (ZpSTD) indicated sexual differences in both populations. The right MC3 was generally stronger than the left side. There was no populational difference in the ZpSTD in both sexes. In both men and women, the cross-sectional shape of the MC3 was relatively larger in the dorso-palmar direction than in the radioulnar direction in the Jomon population compared to the modern Japanese population. Sexual differences in cross-sectional shape were recognized only in the Jomon population, with the dorso-palmar elongation being greater in Jomon men than in women (particularly when comparing the left MC3). There was a significant side difference in the diaphyseal shape among Jomon women, with the right MC3 being relatively larger in the dorso-palmar direction. These findings were consistent, although skeletal remains of the Jomon population were excavated from different regions. Differences in the diaphyseal cross-sectional shape between populations suggest differences in habitual loading on MC3 associated with differences in subsistence behavior. Furthermore, differences in diaphyseal shape and strength between Jomon men and women suggest sexual division of labor, with men performing bimanual tasks and women performing unimanual tasks.


    Yasuo Hagihara. Dorso-palmar elongation of the diaphysis of the third metacarpal bone in prehistoric Jomon people. Anatomical science international. 2021 Jan;96(1):119-131

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    PMID: 32920735

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