Patterning of geographic variation in Middle Pleistocene Homo frontal bone morphology
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A quantitative assessment of the frontal bone morphology of a sample of Middle Pleistocene hominins was undertaken in order to address questions regarding their population structure and evolutionary history. Outline tracings of the frontal bones of forty-seven fossil crania were obtained, and size-standardized measurements were then computed using an Elliptical Fourier analysis of these tracings. Principal component scores of the Fourier harmonic amplitudes were derived and served as a quantitative representation of the morphology of the frontal bone. Morphological, geographical, and temporal distance matrices were then constructed between each pair of fossils. A partial Mantel matrix correlation test was performed between morphological and geographical distance matrices, controlling for temporal distance, in order to determine if the pattern of geographical differentiation in features of the frontal bone of mid-Pleistocene Homo followed that of an isolation-by-distance model of population structure. The results of the partial Mantel tests indicate that the overall patterning of differentiation in the features of the frontal bone cannot best be explained by a population structure shaped by isolation-by-distance. Additionally, various aspects of the frontal bone quantified here follow different patterns of geographical differentiation, suggesting that a mosaic pattern of evolution holds true for characters within one cranial region and not just for those between regions.
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