Subnasoalveolar anatomy and hominoid phylogeny: Evidence from comparative ontogeny


Subnasoalveolar anatomy and hominoid phylogeny: Evidence from comparative ontogeny


McCollum M A; Ward S C


American Journal of Physical Anthropology




The present analysis evaluated extant hominoid subnasal morphological variation from an ontogenetic perspective, documenting both qualitative and allometric details of subnasal maturation in Hylobates, great apes and modern humans. With respect to intraspecific variation, results of log-linear modeling procedures indicate that qualitative features of the subnasal region shown previously to discriminate extant taxa (Ward and Kimbel, 1983; McCollum et al., 1993) do not vary appreciably with either age or sex. In terms of quantitative variation, aside from observed changes in the position of the anterior attachment of the nasal septal cartilage relative to the lateral margins of the nasal cavity, the morphology of the subnasal region does not vary appreciably with age. Furthermore, it was found that sexual dimorphism in subnasal form is present only in Pongo and Gorilla and is the result of sexual bimaturism rather than sexual variation in canine size. In considering interspecific variation in subnasal form, there is a propensity among hominoid taxa for the nasal cavity floor to be free of substantial topographic relief. The smoothly continuous nasal floor topography identified in the majority of hominoid taxa appears to be produced by extensive resorption of the anterior nasal cavity floor that accompanies an upward rotation of the anterior maxilla during craniofacial ontogeny. Comparisons of ontogenetic allometric trajectories indicate that relatively little of the variation in hominoid subnasal form can easily be attributed to variation in body/cranial size. Instead, variation in craniofacial orientation, vascular anatomy and incisor size and inclination were identified as potential mediators of hominoid subnasoalveolar anatomy. Although results of this analysis confirm that many details of the orangutan subnasal morphology are derived for this taxon, there is little conclusive evidence to support recent reports that the morphology displayed by Gorilla is primitive for great apes (Begun, 1992, 1994). (C) 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Anthropology; Evolutionary Biology; evolution; allometry; great apes; miocene; form; sexual dimorphism; extant; fossil hominids; Homo; late; african apes; facial kyphosis; character phylogeny; chimp; hylobatids; ontogenetic; orangutans; skull material; subnasal development


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McCollum M A; Ward S C, “Subnasoalveolar anatomy and hominoid phylogeny: Evidence from comparative ontogeny,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed December 10, 2023,