Rotator cuff disease in humans and apes: a palaeopathological and evolutionary perspective on shoulder pathology

  • Dr Alice May Roberts

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Humans are unique amongst the hominoids in having evolved habitual bipedalism. The upper limb has been freed from a locomotor role and has become specialised to perfoming manipulatory tasks. The shoulders of humans and other hominoids are morphologically similar, although the human shoulder includes specialisations representing adaptation to use of the upper limb below the shoulder. The human shoulder joint is susceptible to degenerative joint disease (DJD), most commonly taking the form of rotator cuff disease (RCD). Mention of RCD is extremely rare in the palaeopathological record, and does not represent the spectrum of disease recognised clinically; RCD is entirely absent from literature on non-human primate pathology. Palaeopathology and comparative primate pathology have the potential to provide perspective on DJD in modem humans, as well as providing insight into the relationship between fonn and function.
Date of Award2008
Original languageEnglish

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