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

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Zihlman, Adrienne L; Bolter, Debra R
Year of Publication: 2015
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Volume: 112
Issue: 24
Pagination: 7466-71
Date Published: 2015 Jun 16
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: Adipose Tissue, Adult, Animals, Biological Evolution, Body composition, Body Weight, Bone and Bones, Brain, Female, Humans, Male, Muscles, Organ Size, Pan paniscus, Selection, Genetic, Skin, Species Specificity

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.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1505071112
Alternate Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
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