Lab Reports


Here goes round two of Lab Reports. This one is going to pull from two separate Virtual Labs, though you will see that they relate to the same concept. Each of the labs provides such little content that the two should really be grouped together in creating a cohesive whole.

Begin this assignment by reading the Lab Exercises for both Lab 3 and Lab 4. These are the datasets you will be working with. Sections 2 and 3 of Lab 4 will provide you with general anatomical information regarding the bones you are working with.

The goal of the lab report is to make inferences about locomotor behavior by analyzing skeletal material. This is what we do in paleontology. Since we seldom (if ever) find a complete skeleton, we have come up with a variety of ways to discuss life history, adaptations, and behavior from most elements of the skeleton. This aspect of paleontological work encompasses the fields of biomechanics and functional morphology. These elements do not always tell us the whole story, but every little bit counts.

Before you dive into your work I want to clarify what data you are to use. The activity in Lab 3 is pretty straight forward. Other than some color-coding issues in the scatter plots, you should not run into many problems. It doesn’t quite show you the parameters for measuring the Olecranon Process vs the Ulnar Shaft. Do your best by examining the image on the opening page. Even if you struggle, however, the lab ultimately gives you the measurements to work with.

Lab 4 is unfortunately a little more convoluted. After you get through the review of Scientific Method, the lab shows you how to measure the Humerofemoral Index. This is your primary metric for this activity. After you go through the motions of obtaining this index, however, Kappelman gives you a different metric (the Intermembral Index) as well as body mass. Ignore these! Proceed in this report only by using the indices that you measured (Olecranon-Ulnar & Humerofemoral). The lab explains that this measurement can be used as an approximate for the Intermembral Index and so that is how we will use it. It is important to treat this exercise as if you only have three bones to study (Humerus, Ulna, Femur). When reporting on the intermembral index, state clearly that you are using the Humerofemoral Index as a proxy. This will not ruin your interpretation as it plots in the same general area. Honestly, I don’t know why he throws extra data at you. It’s unnecessary and less realistic.

I also want you to ignore the body mass provided for you (also unrealistic). You are asked to make assumptions about body mass in your conclusions. In plotting the Humerofemoral index on the Intermembral Index plot, you will see a range of body sizes that are common for this Index. That is what you discuss.

Finally, ignore the behavioral data. If you could study these primates in real time their identity would not be a mystery…

Lab Report 2: Biomechanics and Primate Locomotion

Between Labs three and four, Kappelman provides students with two metric activities. These focus on a specimen titled “mystery primate”. Students are provided with three osteological elements to assess: the Ulna, the Humerus, and the Femur. With these in hand, two separate biomechanical indices are obtainable. The Olecranon-Ulnar index measures the length of the Olecranon Process relative to the length of the Ulnar Shaft. The Humerofemoral index measures the relative proportion of the forelimb to hindlimb. Each of these indices can be used to make assumptions about the mystery primate’s locomotor style.

This lab report will be an exercise in paleontology. Students are said to have found these three elements and are asked to provide insight into the locomotor style. Your report should follow the following outline/answer the follow question.

Introduction (In any order, include the following)

-Explain what is meant by locomotion and the four common primate locomotor styles discussed in the lecture.

-Explain the scenario. Your team has discovered three primate limb bones and you have been tasked with determining the animal’s mode of locomotion.

-Thesis statement

Here is your googled definition of a thesis statement: thesis statement is one sentence that expresses the main idea of a research paper or essay, such as an expository essay or argumentative essay. It makes a claim, directly answering a question.

Materials and Methods

              -What are the elements you are working with

              -What are the indices that you will be calculating

                             -how are they calculated


              -What are the index values

              -Where do they fit in the plots provided in the lab

                             -which species do they plot with?

              (feel free to copy and paste the scatter plots as well)


  1. General statement regarding this data and the overall locomotor pattern.
  2. Discuss your findings beyond the simple locomotor classification (not just one of the four categories discussed above). There are low values and high values for each grouping. The differences reflect variations of that particular group. (this is explained in the lab content)
  3. Explain the function of the indices. Why are the limbs built this way? What are the functional specifics? (explained in the lab content)
  4. Can we make assumptions about body mass?


Assuming that the Mystery Primate is a known species, what species do your measurements suggest it is (refer to the scatter plots)? What sort of environment would you expect to find it in? Given its locomotor style and assumed body mass, what predictions could you possibly make about its diet? What other data would you need to confirm your predictions?

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