Ontogenetic allometry and cranial shape diversification among human populations from South America

Paula N Gonzalez, S Ivan Perez, Valeria Bernal
Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology 2011, 294 (11): 1864-74
Modifications of ontogenetic allometries play an important role in patterning the shape differentiation among populations. This study evaluates the influence of size variation on craniofacial shape disparity among human populations from South America and assesses whether the morphological disparity observed at the interpopulation level resulted from a variable extension of the same ontogenetic allometry, or whether it arose as a result of divergences in the pattern of size-related shape changes. The size and shape of 282 adult and subadult crania were described by geometric morphometric-based techniques. Multivariate regressions were used to evaluate the influence of size on shape differentiation between and within populations, and phylogenetic comparative methods were used to take into account the shared evolutionary history among populations. The phylogenetic generalized least-squares models showed that size accounts for a significant amount of shape variation among populations for the vault and face but not for the base, suggesting that the three modules did not exhibit a uniform response to changes in overall growth. The common slope test indicated that patterns of evolutionary and ontogenetic allometry for the vault and face were similar and characterized by a heightening of the face and a lengthening of the vault with increasing size. The conservation of the same pattern of shape changes with size suggests that differences in the extent of growth contributed to the interpopulation cranial shape variation and that certain directions of morphological change were favored by the trait covariation along ontogeny.

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