Ectocranial Suture Closure in Pan Troglodytes and Gorilla Gorilla: Pattern and Phylogeny

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American Journal of Physical Anthropology

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cranial suture, synostosis, variation, phylogeny, Guttman analysis




The order in which ectocranial sutures undergo fusion displays species-specific variation among primates. However, the precise relationship between suture closure and phylogenetic affinities is poorly understood. In this study, we used Guttman Scaling to determine if the modal progression of suture closure differs among Homo sapiens, Pan troglodytes, and Gorilla gorilla. Because DNA sequence homologies strongly suggest that P. troglodytes and Homo sapiens share a more recent common ancestor than either does with G. gorilla, we hypothesized that this phylogenetic relationship would be reflected in the suture closure patterns of these three taxa. Results indicated that while all three species do share a similar lateral-anterior closure pattern, G. gorilla exhibits a unique vault pattern, which, unlike humans and P. troglodytes, follows a strong posterior-to-anterior gradient. P. troglodytes is therefore more like Homo sapiens in suture synostosis. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.