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Part I - Craniofacial form and variation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2009

Fred Anapol
Affiliation:
Professor in the Department of Anthropology (adjunct in Biological Sciences) and the Director of the Center for Forensic Science University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Rebecca Z. German
Affiliation:
Professor in Biological Sciences University of Cincinnati
Nina G. Jablonski
Affiliation:
Chair and Curator of Anthropology California Academy of Sciences
Fred Anapol
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Rebecca Z. German
Affiliation:
University of Cincinnati
Nina G. Jablonski
Affiliation:
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
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Summary

The study of craniofacial form and variation has always been one of the most important areas for those interested in shaping primate evolution. Skulls were the most frequently collected specimens in museums. Skull parts, especially teeth, are most frequently found in the fossil record. Skulls and teeth are easily examined in the living. The bones of the face allow some estimation of how their owners appeared. Appearance and change in appearance as produced by medical and dental technologies have profound effects upon individual well-being. All these are good reasons why this is one of the most critical of anatomical regions.

At the same time, however, skulls, faces, jaws, and teeth are the most complex region of the body. More, perhaps, than in any other region, do a number of completely different functions have to be integrated in its structure. The genetics underlying cranium, face, jaw, and teeth are even now not well known and clearly far more complicated than the postcranium. The development and growth of the head depends upon complex mechanisms and processes, many of which have only been elucidated in the last two decades. In evolutionary terms, the “head problem” in chordates, reflecting at the same time both very ancient and very recent elements, has always been more difficult to understand than, say, the equivalent trunk problem or limb problem (which problems do not even rate quotation marks).

Type
Chapter
Information
Shaping Primate Evolution
Form, Function, and Behavior
, pp. 9 - 10
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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