Predicting body mass of bonobos (Pan paniscus) with human-based morphometric equations.


Yapuncich, GS; Bowie, A; Belais, R; Churchill, SE; Walker, CS


A primate's body mass covaries with numerous ecological, physiological, and behavioral characteristics. This versatility and potential to provide insight into an animal's life has made body mass prediction a frequent and important objective in paleoanthropology. In hominin paleontology, the most commonly employed body mass prediction equations (BMPEs) are "mechanical" and "morphometric": uni- or multivariate linear regressions incorporating dimensions of load-bearing skeletal elements and stature and living bi-iliac breadth as predictor variables, respectively. The precision and accuracy of BMPEs are contingent on multiple factors, however, one of the most notable and pervasive potential sources of error is extrapolation beyond the limits of the reference sample. In this study, we use a test sample requiring extrapolation-56 bonobos (Pan paniscus) from the Lola ya Bonobo sanctuary in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-to evaluate the predictive accuracy of human-based morphometric BMPEs. We first assess systemic differences in stature and bi-iliac breadth between humans and bonobos. Due to significant differences in the scaling relationships of body mass and stature between bonobos and humans, we use panel regression to generate a novel BMPE based on living bi-iliac breadth. We then compare the predictive accuracy of two previously published morphometric equations with the novel equation and find that the novel equation predicts bonobo body mass most accurately overall (41 of 56 bonobos predicted within 20% of their observed body mass). The novel BMPE is particularly accurate between 25 and 45 kg. Given differences in limb proportions, pelvic morphology, and body tissue composition between the human reference and bonobo test samples, we find these results promising and evaluate the novel BMPE's potential application to fossil hominins.


Yapuncich, Gabriel S., Aleah Bowie, Raphaël Belais, Steven E. Churchill, and Christopher S. Walker. “Predicting body mass of bonobos (Pan paniscus) with human-based morphometric equations.” Am J Primatol 82, no. 2 (February 2020): e23088.

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