Twelve metric variables of the humerus, radius, femur, and tibia were investigated in 11 male samples from northeastern and eastern Asian populations. Variations among regions and correlations between latitude and respective measurements and indices were calculated and a principal component analysis was conducted to elucidate human limb bone characteristics. Significant correlation and marginally significant correlation were found for the maximum subtrochanteric diameter (r = 0.662, P = 0.027) and the platymeric index (r = −0.583, P = 0.060) with latitude, respectively, suggesting that the femur of northern Asians had a wide and flat subtrochanteric shape. The second principal component of the principal component analysis shows that the northeastern samples with comparatively long shaft length and thin and flat shaft diameters were discriminated from the southern samples; the second principal component was significantly correlated with latitude (r = −0.743, P = 0.009). The estimated Fst value of 0.432–0.336 shows that the variation in limb bone measurements across regions is rather large, at approximately two or three times the low levels of interregional variation (0.078–0.180) in analyses of cranial and dental data. Limb bone morphology has been repeatedly proposed to be more strongly influenced by environmental and nutritional factors than cranial and dental traits, but this study is the first to confirm it on the basis of statistical analysis.
2013 The Anthropological Society of Nippon