The frontal bone in the genus Homo: a survey of functional and phylogenetic sources of variation.
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The frontal bone is a useful aspect of the craniofacial skeleton to study in physical anthropology because it contains several characters considered to be important for both population- and species-level distinctions. These include forehead (frontal squama) inclination and supraorbital morphology. Because it lies at the interface between the anterior neurocranium and the upper face, it is also informative about the evolution of both of these regions of the skull. Previous research on frontal bone morphology can be grouped into two broad categories. One set of studies explored the relationship between craniofacial structure and function in an attempt to explain biological sources of variation in the torus development of various extant primate species, including modern humans. The second group of studies examined geographical and temporal patterns of variation in frontal morphology to make inferences about the phylogenetic relationship relationships among fossil hominin populations in the Pleistocene. This paper offers a review of both phylogenetic and functional studies of variation in frontal bone morphology, and synthesizes them to offer a comprehensive understanding of what the frontal bone can tell us about bio-behavioral and evolutionary differences both among extant and extinct members of the genus Homo.
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