Allometries throughout the late prenatal and early postnatal human craniofacial ontogeny

Marina L Sardi, Fernando Ventrice, Fernando Ramírez Rozzi
Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology 2007, 290 (9): 1112-20
Craniofacial shape changes throughout the late prenatal and early postnatal ontogeny (32-47 weeks of gestational age) were explored. The purpose was to evaluate whether the skull follows an allometric growth pattern, as was observed in other ontogenetic periods, and to assess shape variation patterns for the cranial vault, cranial base, and face. Thirty three-dimensional landmarks were registered in 54 skulls. Wire-frames were built with landmarks to observe shape variation in the following cranial components: anteroneural, midneural, posteroneural, optic, respiratory, masticatory, and alveolar. The landmark configurations were subjected to generalized Procrustes analyses, and the shape coordinates obtained were subjected to Principal Components Analyses. Multivariate regression of the shape variables (the principal components) on the size vector (the centroid size) was performed to assess allometries. Transformation grids were constructed to identify how cranial components interact across ontogeny. Results indicated that highly significant shape changes depend on size changes. Important shape variation in the vault, small variation in the cranial base, and no variation in the face were observed. Brain growth is proposed to be the major influence on craniofacial shape change, which produces a relative elongation and compression of midneural and posteroneural components. The cranial base elongates by intrinsic factors and affects position of the face. Ontogenetically, the cranial base seems to be independent with respect to brain growth, in contrast to what has been suggested in comparisons at higher taxonomic levels.

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