Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Interactive 3D models of human joints, showing how common medical complaints have arisen and how we are likely to evolve in the future, have been created at NDORMS.

The researchers created 3D computer models of human joints by compiling 128 slice CT scans of bones from humans, early hominids, primates and dinosaurs. In all, they scanned 224 bone specimens.

By using 3D engineering and mathematical methods the group have produced 3D 'morphs' to plot changes in the shapes of species throughout the human lineage. This has provided new insights into the morphological trends associated with common orthopaedic complaints, such as anterior knee pain and shoulder pain.

Extrapolation of these trends has allowed 3D printing of possible future skeletal shapes as humans evolve.

Samples used in the study were from shoulders, hips and knees, and has enabled the researchers to make mathematical comparisons that could be used as planning tools for orthopaedic surgery. By comparing the modern and ancient samples, the team hopes to gain a better insight into the origins and solutions to common orthopaedic complaints.

Dr Paul Monk, who led the research at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, said: 'Throughout our lineage we have been adapting the shape of our joints, which leads to a range of new challenges for orthopaedic surgeons. Recently there has been an increase in common problems such as anterior knee pain, and shoulder pain when reaching overhead, which led us to look at how joints originally came to look and function the way they do.

'These models will enable us to identify the root causes of many modern joint conditions, as well as enabling us to anticipate future problems that are likely to begin to appear based on lifestyle and genetic changes.

'Current trends reveal that the modern shapes of joint replacements won’t work in the future, meaning that we will need to re-think our approach for many common surgeries.

'We also wanted to see what we’re all going to look like in the future, and to answer questions such as ‘are we evolving to be taller and faster or weaker’, and ‘might we be evolving to need hip replacements earlier in the future?’'

The specimens scanned include amphibious reptiles (eg. Hellbender), dinosaurs, shrews, tupaiae, lemurs, primates, A. Afarensis (Lucy), H. Erectus (Turkana Boy) and H. Neaderthalis.

The full set of morphs can be viewed online.

Similar stories

The Duchess of Cornwall opens the new Marcela Botnar wing

A new building at the University of Oxford's Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences has been opened by The Duchess of Cornwall.

Plaster cast or metal pins to treat a broken wrist? The results are in.

An Oxford study published in The BMJ has found the use of metal K-wires (commonly known as ‘pins’) to hold broken wrist bones in place while they heal are no better than a traditional moulded plaster cast.

Professor Chris Buckley has joined the Kennedy Institute as Director of Clinical Research

Moving to the University of Oxford with the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP) will help accelerate the discovery of new treatments for inflammatory diseases.

Behind enemy lines: research finds a new ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease hidden within the vessel wall itself

A new study reveals the existence of a powerful ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease, a protective subset of vascular macrophages expressing the C-type lectin receptor CLEC4A2, a molecule which fosters “good” macrophage behaviour within the vessel wall.

More effective treatment found for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia

A proof-of-concept trial involving Oxford researchers has identified a drug that may benefit some patients hospitalised with COVID-19 pneumonia.

NDORMS researchers honoured in the Recognition Of Distinction Scheme 2021

Sally Hopewell and John Christianson have been awarded the title of ‘Full Professor’ in the University of Oxford’s Recognition Of Distinction Scheme 2021.