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A 2D Geometric Morphometric Analysis of Changes in the Basicranium in Relation to Trunk Posture in Mammals

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Mammals with a habitually orthograde trunk posture possess a more anterior foramen magnum than mammals with non-orthograde trunk postures. Russo & Kirk (2013) also found that bipedal orthograde mammals possess

Mammals with a habitually orthograde trunk posture possess a more anterior foramen magnum than mammals with non-orthograde trunk postures. Russo & Kirk (2013) also found that bipedal orthograde mammals possess a more anteriorly placed foramen magnum than those that are just habitually orthograde. This finding has allowed us to use foramen magnum position as a predictor of trunk posture in early hominins. This prompts more research of how the other landmarks on the cranial base move in relation to this shift in foramen magnum positioning. I collected landmark data on images of 125 mammalian basicrania spanning 41 species that differed in trunk posture. Using Procrustes and Principal Components Analysis (PCA), I attempted to evaluate the effects of trunk posture on basicranial morphology, primarily focusing on the placement of the carotid and jugular foramina. The results supported Russo and Kirk's finding of a more anterior foramen magnum placement in orthograde mammals; in addition, the results displayed correlations between foramen magnum position and carotid foramen position among primates and diprotodonts.

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  • 2015-05

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Investigation of the growth patterns of the Galagidae

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This study examined the ontogeny of body mass (i.e. "growth") of Otolemur garnettii and Galago senegalensis. Growth is a proximate causal mechanism for adult size variation and growth patterns

This study examined the ontogeny of body mass (i.e. "growth") of Otolemur garnettii and Galago senegalensis. Growth is a proximate causal mechanism for adult size variation and growth patterns themselves can be the target of selection with adult size being the end result. Therefore, growth patterns of species can be the result of adaptation to species-specific social system, ecology, and life-history. The goals of this study were to: (1) Assess whether interspecific body mass variation was due to differences in growth rate, growth duration, a combination of the two, or neither; (2) test the hypothesis that sexual size dimorphism is attained by differences in relative growth rate as predicted by sexual selection theory; and (3) test the hypothesis that frugivorous O. garnettii grow at a relatively lower rate than gummivorous Go. senegalensis as predicted by an ecological risk aversion hypothesis. Growth rates and durations of Otolemur garnettii and Galago senegalensis males and females were compared both interspecifically and intraspecifically. The hypotheses regarding the ontogeny of sexual size dimorphism and the risk aversion hypothesis were not supported. O. garnettii males and females grow at an absolutely higher rate and for a longer duration compared to Go. senegalensis males and females respectively. O. garnettii females grow at a relatively higher rate compared to Go. senegalensis females as well. This may relate to weaning habits. O. garnettii infants are weaned during the dry season when feeding competition would be presumably high making large mass at weaning advantageous. While the growth of females might be strongly influenced by natural selection and competition for resources following weaning, the growth of males may be more strongly influenced by sexual selection relating to contest competition for females. Sexual size dimorphism results from differences in growth duration in O. garnettii and from differences in both growth duration and growth rate in Go. senegalensis. The results of this study highlight the need for more data on the growth patterns, mating and social systems, feeding competition, and life history schedules for these and other galagids. Study of how and why growth patterns have diverged through evolution is important in discerning the evolutionary history of each species.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Nonsocial influences on canine size in anthropoid primates

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Early hominins present an unusual pattern of sexual dimorphism. On one hand, the canine teeth of these species are weakly size-dimorphic, vertically short, and nonhoning, suggesting a social system characterized

Early hominins present an unusual pattern of sexual dimorphism. On one hand, the canine teeth of these species are weakly size-dimorphic, vertically short, and nonhoning, suggesting a social system characterized by infrequent, low-intensity intermale competition and monogamous pair-bonding. On the other hand, marked size variation in skeletal remains attributed to species of Australopithecus is thought to reflect strong body-mass dimorphism, which is more consistent with intense intermale competition. Reconciling these conflicting signals and understanding their adaptive significance is a major goal of paleoanthropology. This dissertation research contributes to this objective by investigating factors that may constrain or reduce canine height in extant anthropoid primates. Two hypotheses regarding the relationship between canine height and other elements of the masticatory system were tested using phylogenetic comparative methods. According to the first hypothesis, canine reduction is a pleiotropic by-product of changes in the sizes of other components of the dentition. With respect to canine height, the results of this study fail to support this idea. There is limited evidence for a relationship between basal canine crown dimensions and incisor and postcanine size, but significant interspecific correlations between these variables are not strong and are restricted primarily to the female maxillary dentition. These results indicate that if pleiotropy influences canine size, then its effects are weak. The second hypothesis proposes that canine reduction is a consequence of selection for increased jaw-muscle leverage. This hypothesis receives some support: there is a clear inverse relationship between canine height and the leverage of the masseter muscle in male anthropoids. Females do not exhibit this association due to the fact that dimorphism in muscle leverage is weak or absent in most anthropoid species; in other words, female muscle leverage tracks male muscle leverage, which is linked to canine height. Leverage of the temporalis muscle is not correlated with canine height in either sex. Two specimens of the 3.0-3.7-million-year-old hominin Australopithecus afarensis fall at or beyond the upper end of the great ape range of variation in masseter leverage, which is consistent with the idea that hominin canine evolution was influenced by selection for increased jaw-muscle leverage.

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Date Created
  • 2010

Developing an infrastructure for biodistance research using deciduous dental phenotypes

Description

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”)

Bioarchaeologists often use dental data and spatial analysis of cemeteries to infer the biological and social structure of ancient communities. This approach is commonly referred to as biological distance (“biodistance”) analysis. While permanent crown data feature prominently in these efforts, few studies have verified the accuracy of biodistance methods for recognizing child relatives using deciduous teeth. Thus, as subadults comprise an essential demographic subset of mortuary assemblages, deciduous phenotypes may represent a critical but underutilized source of information on the underlying genetic structure of past populations. The goal of the dissertation is to​ quantitatively analyze the developmental program underlying deciduous phenotypes and​ to evaluate their performance in accurately reconstructing known genealogical relationships.​ This project quantifies morphological variation of deciduous and permanent tooth crowns from stone dental casts representing individuals of known pedigree deriving from three distinct populations: European Canadians, European Australians, and Aboriginal Australians.

To address the paucity of deciduous-focused validation research, phenotypic distances generated from the dental data are subjected to performance analyses (biodistance simulations) and compared to genetic distances between individuals. While family-specific results vary, crown morphology performs moderately well in distinguishing relatives from non-relatives. Comparisons between deciduous and permanent results (i.e., Euclidean distances, Mantel tests, multidimensional scaling output) indicate that deciduous crown variation provides a more direct reflection of the underlying genetic structure of pedigreed samples. The morphology data are then analyzed within a quantitative genetic framework using maximum likelihood variance components analysis. Novel narrow-sense heritability and pleiotropy estimates are generated for the complete suite of deciduous and permanent crown characters, which facilitates comparisons between samples, traits, dentitions, arcades, antimeres, metameres, scoring standards, and dichotomization breakpoints. Results indicate wide-ranging but moderate heritability estimates for morphological traits, as well as low to moderate integration for characters within (deciduous-deciduous; permanent-permanent) and between (deciduous-permanent) dentitions. On average, deciduous and permanent homologues are more strongly genetically correlated than characters within the same tooth row. Results are interpreted with respect to dental development and biodistance methodology. Ultimately, the dissertation empirically validates the use of dental morphology as a proxy for underlying genetic information, including deciduous characters.

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Date Created
  • 2017