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Visualizing patterns of craniofacial shape variation in Homo sapiens.


ABSTRACT: The geometric morphometric analysis of shape variation in complex biological structures such as the human skull poses a number of specific challenges: the registration of homologous morphologies, the treatment of bilateral symmetry, the graphical representation of form variability in three dimensions and the interpretation of the results in terms of differential growth processes. To visualize complex patterns of shape change, we propose an alternative to classical Cartesian deformation grids in the style of D'Arcy W. Thompson. Reference to the surface structures of the organism under investigation permits a comprehensive visual grasp of shape change and its tentative interpretation in terms of differential growth. The application of this method to the analysis of human craniofacial shape variation reveals distinct modes of growth and development of the neurocranial and viscerocranial regions of the skull. Our data further indicate that variations in the orientation of the viscerocranium relative to the neurocranium impinge on the shapes of the face and the cranial vault.

SUBMITTER: Zollikofer CP 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC1690963 | BioStudies | 2002-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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