biomechanics and primate locomotion
evolution of the hominoid postcranium
skeletal growth and development
skeletal remodeling & behavioral reconstruction in human populations
My research explores how variation in skeletal morphology is related to mechanical forces applied during life. Many experimental and comparative studies show that the skeleton adapts to its mechanical environment, both developmentally and through evolutionary time, by altering its structural organization. Thus, using engineering principles, the preserved morphology of skeletal elements can be used to reconstruct past behavior and other characteristics such as body size and proportions. My work has applied this general approach to a variety of issues in vertebrate biology, focusing in particular on the primate postcranial skeleton: locomotor adaptations among anthropoid primates, the evolution of human bipedal locomotion, reconstruction of stature and body mass, bioarchaeological studies of various recent populations, climatic adaptation, and skeletal growth and aging in both humans and nonhuman primates. My current research is focused on how changes in subsistence strategy and other environmental variables affected skeletal morphology in Holocene European populations; the interaction between locomotion, obstetrics, and body shape among early hominins; and the effects of locomotor transitions during growth on skeletal structure in gorillas and other hominoids.
Ruff, C.B., Burgess, M.L., Bromage, T.G., Mudakikwa, A., McFarlin, S.C.
(2013) Ontogenetic changes in limb bone structural proportions in mountain
gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). J. Hum. Evol. 65: 693-703.
(view from Elsevier
Ruff, C.B., Garofalo, E., and Holmes, M.A. (2013)
Interpreting skeletal growth in the past from a functional and physiological
perspective. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 150:29-37. (view from Wiley
Ruff, C.B. and Higgins, R. (2013) Femoral neck structure and function
in early hominins. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 150:512-525. (view
Ruff C.B., Holt, B.M., Niskanen, M., Sladek, V., Berner, M., Garofalo,
E., Garvin, H.M., Hora, M., Maijanen, H., Niinimaki, S., Salo, K., Schuplerova,
E., and Tompkins, D. (2012) Stature and body mass estimation from skeletal
remains in the European Holocene. Am J Phys Anthropol. 148: 601-617.
(view from Wiley
Ruff, C.B. (2010) Body size and body shape in early hominins: Implications
of the Gona pelvis. J. Hum. Evol. 58: 166-178. (view from Elsevier
Ruff, C.B. (2009) Relative limb strength and locomotion in Homo habilis.
Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 138: 90-100. (view from Wiley
Ruff, C.B. (2008) Biomechanical analyses of archaeological human skeletons.
In: Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton (2nd ed.).
Katzenberg, M.A. and Saunders, S.R., eds. New York: Alan R. Liss, pp.
Ruff, C.B. (2008) Femoral/humeral strength in early African Homo erectus.
J. Hum. Evol. 54: 383-390. (view from Elsevier
Ruff, C.B. (2007) Body size prediction from juvenile skeletal remains.
Amer. J. Phys. Anthropol. 133:698-716. (view from Wiley
Ruff C.B. (2006) Gracilization of the modern human skeleton - The latent
strength in our slender bones teaches lessons about human lives, current
and past. Amer. Scientist 94: 508-514 (view from American
Ruff, C.B., Holt, B.M., Sládek, V., Berner, M., Murphy, W.A., Nedden,
D. zur, Seidler, H., and Reicheis, W. (2006) Body size, body shape, and
long bone strength of the Tyrolean "Iceman". J. Human Evol. 51:
91-101. (view from Elsevier
Ruff, C.B., Holt, B., Trinkaus, E. (2006) Who's Afraid of the Big Bad
Wolff?: "Wolff's Law" and Bone Functional Adaptation. Amer. J. Phys.
Anthropol. 129:484-498. (view from Wiley