Large pelvic tubercle in orangutans relates to the adductor longus muscle

Brian M. Shearer, Magdalena Muchlinski, Ashley S. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Orangutan pelves commonly exhibit a large, projecting tubercle in the iliopubic region, historically assumed to homologous to the pubic tubercle in humans. However, it is not clear whether this tubercle is a unique feature of Pongo, or if it is anatomically homologous with the human pubic tubercle when considered as a soft tissue attachment point. To clarify this issue, we dissected orangutan and other ape cadaveric specimens to evaluate the pelvic brim soft tissues and how they may relate to the tubercle (when present). We additionally conducted a broad osteological survey of pelvic brim morphology across 28 primate genera (n = 294 specimens) to document the presence of the tubercle in primate pelves. Cadaveric dissections revealed that the tubercle is exclusively associated with the proximal attachment of the adductor longus muscle tendon in orangutans. Our osteological survey confirms that the tubercle is both constantly present and very prominent in orangutans. We observed that the tubercle is consistently situated along the pectineal line, lateral to where the pubic tubercle in humans is found, thereby making its structural homology unlikely. The osteological survey documented the tubercle at polymorphic frequencies in all hominoid taxa, though generally less protuberant than observed in Pongo. We argue that this further excludes its possibility of homology with the pubic tubercle, and that it may therefore be more appropriately be considered an adductor longus tubercle. We discuss possible functional and phylogenetic implications for this feature.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7273
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019


  • Adductor longus
  • Adductor longus tubercle
  • Dissection
  • Great ape
  • Hominoid
  • Pelvic brim
  • Pongo


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