Patterns of cranial shape variation in the Papionini (Primates: Cercopithecinae)

Michelle Singleton
Journal of Human Evolution 2002, 42 (5): 547-78
Traditional classifications of the Old World monkey tribe Papionini (Primates: Cercopithecinae) recognized the mangabey genera Cercocebus and Lophocebus as sister taxa. However, molecular studies have consistently found the mangabeys to be diphyletic, with Cercocebus and Mandrillus forming a clade to the exclusion of all other papionins. Recent studies have identified cranial and postcranial features which distinguish the Cercocebus-Mandrillus clade, however the detailed similarities in cranial shape between the mangabey genera are more difficult to reconcile with the molecular evidence. Given the large size differential between members of the papionin molecular clades, it has frequently been suggested that allometric effects account for homoplasy in papionin cranial form. A combination of geometric morphometric, bivariate, and multivariate methods was used to evaluate the hypothesis that allometric scaling contributes to craniofacial similarities between like-sized papionin taxa. Patterns of allometric and size-independent cranial shape variation were subsequently described and related to known papionin phylogenetic relationships and patterns of development. Results confirm that allometric scaling of craniofacial shape characterized by positive facial allometry and negative neurocranial allometry is present across adult papionins. Pairwise comparisons of regression lines among genera revealed considerable homogeneity of scaling within the Papionini, however statistically significant differences in regression lines also were noted. In particular, Cercocebus and Lophocebus exhibit a shared slope and significant vertical displacement of their allometric lines relative to other papionins. These findings give no support to narrowly construed hypotheses of uniquely shared patterns of allometric scaling, either between sister taxa or across all papionins. However, more general allometric trends do appear to account for a substantial proportion of papionin cranial shape variation, most notably in those features which have influenced traditional morphological phylogenies. Examination of size-uncorrelated shape variation gives no clear support to molecular phylogenies, but underscores the absence of morphometric similarities between the mangabey genera when size effects are controlled. Patterns of allometric and size-uncorrelated shape variation indicate conservatism of cranial form in non- Theropithecus papionins, and suggest that Papio represents the primitive morphometric pattern for the African papionins. Lophocebus exhibits a divergent morphometric pattern, clearly distinguishable from other papionins, most notably Cercocebus. These results clarify patterns of cranial shape variation among the extant Papionini and lay the groundwork for studies of related fossil taxa.

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