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Frontal sinus variation in extant species of the genera Pan, Gorilla and Homo

Balzeau, A, Albessard-Ball, L, Kubicka, AM, Noûs, C and Buck, LT (2021) Frontal sinus variation in extant species of the genera Pan, Gorilla and Homo. Bulletins et Memoires de la Societe d'Anthropologie de Paris, 33 (2). ISSN 0037-8984

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Open Access URL: https://journals.openedition.org/bmsap/7840 (Published version)


Frontal pneumatisation is not present in all primates, and among extant species, ethmoidally-derived frontal sinuses are present only in the genera Pan, Gorilla and Homo. A simple and repeatable method is described here to quantify variation in the shape, size and bilateral variation of the frontal sinuses. This has allowed the first large study of these variables, including analyses of large samples of P. paniscus, P. troglodytes, G. gorilla and of several geographically diverse populations of H. sapiens. Frontal sinus shape and size are potential phylogenetic markers in primate systematics. We suggest that, in contrast to an allometric relationship between endocranial and frontal sinus form in Pan and Gorilla, H. sapiens is autapomorphic in having highly variable, supero-inferiorly large frontal sinuses, whose size is unrestricted by variation in cranial form. However, we also describe differences in frontal pneumatisation between those taxa. H. sapiens differs from the other taxa in having relatively smaller frontal sinuses that are more variable in shape and size. In P. troglodytes, P. paniscus and G. gorilla, the shape and size of frontal pneumatisation correlates positively with the overall size of the braincase. This suggests that the large space available in the bone structures of the non-human primates analysed allows the sinuses to develop under only slight constraint (if any) from surrounding structures. In H. sapiens, a significant correlation is observed between the asymmetry in the anterior extension of the frontal lobes of the brain and the shape and extension of the frontal sinuses. We suggest that the more vertical orientation of the H. sapiens frontal bone, its reduced thickness, the reduction of the supraorbital tori and the increased influence of the frontal lobes appear to have modified the integration between the skull, brain and sinuses in the frontal region in our species compared to our nearest extant relatives. Our results reduce the possibility of a strong functional origin for the variation in size and shape of the frontal sinuses in the primates analysed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Société d'Anthropologie de Paris
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2021 10:09
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2021 10:09
DOI or ID number: 10.4000/BMSAP.7840
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15901
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