A comparative probabilistic analysis of human and chimpanzee rotator cuff functional capacity

Kathleen F.E. MacLean, Joseph E. Langenderfer, Clark R. Dickerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computational musculoskeletal modeling represents a valuable approach to examining biological systems in physical anthropology. Probabilistic modeling builds on computational musculoskeletal models by associating mathematical distributions of specific musculoskeletal features within known ranges of biological variability with functional outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine if overlap in rotator cuff muscle force predictions would occur between species during the performance of an evolutionarily relevant horizontal bimanual arm suspension task. This necessitated creating novel probabilistic models of the human and chimpanzee glenohumeral joint through augmentation of previously published deterministic models. Glenohumeral musculoskeletal features of anthropological interest were probabilistically modeled to produce distributions of predicted human and chimpanzee rotator cuff muscle force that were representative of the specific anatomical manipulations. Musculoskeletal features modeled probabilistically included rotator cuff origins and deltoid insertion, glenoid inclination, and joint stability. Predicted human rotator cuff muscle force distributions were mostly limited to alternating between infraspinatus and teres minor, with both 100% and 0% muscle force predicted for both muscles. The chimpanzee model predicted low-to-moderate muscle force across all rotator cuff muscles. Rotator cuff muscle force predictions were most sensitive to changes of muscle origins and insertions. Results indicate that functional rotator cuff overlap is unlikely between chimpanzees and humans without greater modifications of the glenohumeral musculoskeletal phenotypes. The results also highlight the low efficacy of the human upper extremity in overhead, weight-bearing tasks, and propensity for rotator cuff injury.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Anatomy
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • biomechanics
  • glenoid inclination
  • glenoid stability
  • human evolution
  • muscle attachments
  • rotator cuff pathology
  • shoulder function
  • stochastic modeling


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