Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Anthropology



Major Advisor

Margaret Streeter


A sample of second metacarpals (n=78) obtained from the Sadlermiut, Inuit (1285-1903 A.D.), a genetically isolated East Arctic foraging group, was analyzed histologically in this study. The Sadlermiut subsisted nearly exclusively on small marine mammals and fowl. Based on known adaptations to a cold environment, a high level of physical activity, and a diet high in protein, it was predicted that Inuit bones would show elevated levels of cellular activity. The size and density of secondary osteons in the Sadlermiut are used in this study to compare their bone metabolic processes with known data from a sample of Euro-Canadian metacarpals (n=63) from an historic cemetery in Ontario, Canada. Exact ages were known for the Euro-Canadian group, while the individuals in the Inuit sample are only known as young, middle, and old. Students’ t-tests were used to investigate variation in histological values based on age, sex, and handedness. Additionally, cross-sectional measures were compared between the two groups. Differences in osteon density between the three age categories of the Inuit were found to be significant at the .05 level. Variation between right and left hands and those based on sex were not significant. The Sadlermiut were also found to have smaller cross-sections of bone and increased medullary area but smaller osteon density, comparatively. The decreased cellular activity in the Sadlermiut suggests that even though they had smaller cortices, they were adapted to the strain levels in their hands.