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Body composition in Pan paniscus compared with Homo sapiens has implications for changes during human evolution.

Authors
  • Zihlman, Adrienne L
  • Bolter, Debra R
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Jun 16, 2015
Volume
112
Issue
24
Pages
7466–7471
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1505071112
PMID: 26034269
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

The human body has been shaped by natural selection during the past 4-5 million years. Fossils preserve bones and teeth but lack muscle, skin, fat, and organs. To understand the evolution of the human form, information about both soft and hard tissues of our ancestors is needed. Our closest living relatives of the genus Pan provide the best comparative model to those ancestors. Here, we present data on the body composition of 13 bonobos (Pan paniscus) measured during anatomical dissections and compare the data with Homo sapiens. These comparative data suggest that both females and males (i) increased body fat, (ii) decreased relative muscle mass, (iii) redistributed muscle mass to lower limbs, and (iv) decreased relative mass of skin during human evolution. Comparison of soft tissues between Pan and Homo provides new insights into the function and evolution of body composition.

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