Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich
Friday 9:15-9:30, Ballroom B
Patterns of endocranial size and shape variability in hominins have attracted considerable attention as a potential source of information about evolutionary and developmental modifications of brain structure and function. Relatively little, however, is known about how changes in neuroendocranial morphology are brought about by changes in brain and viscerocranial morphology, respectively. To identify the role of each of these modules in shaping the braincase, we examine patterns of exo- and endocranial shape variation along and across ontogenetic series of great ape (Pan troglodytes and P. paniscus, Gorilla gorilla, Pongo pygmaeus) and human skulls. We use methods of dense surface sampling and geometric morphometrics to identify major modes of neuro- and viscerocranial variation and covariation. Results indicate that differences between taxa in endocranial shape are already present at birth, reflecting differences in brain morphology as well as in the way the viscerocranium is hafted to the neurocranium. Taxon-specific differences in postnatal endocranial ontogeny are mostly due to differential growth trajectories of the brain and the the viscerocranium. Neuroendocranial globularization is likely to represent a shared hominoid pattern of early postnatal skull ontogeny.
Funded by Swiss National Science Foundation grant #31003A_135470/1 to CPEZ.