Morphological Adaptation to Climate in Modern Homo sapiens Crania: The Importance of Basicranial Breadth

Nowaczewska, Wioletta; Dabrowski, Paweł; Kuźmiński, Lukasz
September 2011
Collegium Antropologicum;Sep2011, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p625
Academic Journal
The aim of this study is to investigate whether the variation in breadth of the cranial base among modern human populations that inhabit different regions of the world is linked with climatic adaptation. This work provides an examination of two hypotheses. The first hypothesis is that the correlation between basicranial breadth and ambient temperature is stronger than the correlation between temperature and other neurocranial variables, such as maximum cranial breadth, maximum neurocranial length, and the endocranial volume. The second hypothesis is that the correlation between the breadth of the cranial base and the ambient temperature is significant even when other neurocranial features used in this study (including the size of the neurocranium) are constant. For the sake of this research, the necessary neurocranial variables for fourteen human populations living in diverse environments were obtained from Howells' data (except for endocranial volume which was obtained by means of estimation). The ambient temperature (more precisely, the mean yearly temperature) of the environments inhabited by these populations was used as a major climatic factor. Data were analysed using Pearson correlation coefficients, linear regression and partial correlation analyses. The results supported the two hypotheses, thus suggesting that ambient temperature may contribute to the observed differences in the breadth of the cranial base in the studied modern humans.


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