We measured how much the radius of the anterior curvature and the length of the femoral shaft of cadaveric bones have changed from medieval to recent times. Around 20 (x, y) coordinates of a virtual coordinate system were measured at intervals of 1.5 cm along the shaft of the femur to calculate one single radius of a virtual circle in the (x, y) plane. The median radii of curvature were 119, 141, and 158 em for medieval, early, and late 20th century femora, respectively. Early and late 20th century femora were of similar length (45 cm), but medieval femora were shorter (43.5 cm). Femora have become not only longer but also straighter since the Middle Ages. These findings account in part for the increase in height of modern generations. Size and shape changes may have significant implications for the biomechanical response of the femur to the forces to which it is subjected in everyday life, in trauma, and following surgical intervention. (C) 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
- secular trends
- population studies