Original paper

Bone Microstructure and Its Hidden Information

Doppler, Stefanie;Hotz, Gerhard;Neuberger, Ferdinand;Grupe, Gisela


Human bone micromorphology gives clues to a variety of life history parameters, such as individual age, health status, and physical activity.In the course of an ongoing study, thin cross sections of femoral compact bone from three skeletal series are investigated for different purposes. The first series consists of 103 adult skeletons excavated from a 19th century hospital graveyard in Basel, Switzerland. Several disease- and stress-markers, like layers of arrested growth or other conspicuous microstructural composition were observed. Another 36 individuals come from the dissection room of the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. These individuals have an average age at death of about 80 years and offer the possibility to investigate the micromorphological characteristics of individuals of very advanced age. Finally, 72 medieval subadult skeletons shall serve for the establishment of a relationship between individual age and bone microstructural parameters according to the different ontogenetic stages.


Compact human bone microstructureNomarski differential interference contrast (DIC)age at deathstress markers