5 years ago

The evolution of hominoid cranial diversity: A quantitative genetic approach

Noreen Cramon-Taubadel, Lauren Schroeder
Hominoid cranial evolution is characterized by substantial phenotypic diversity, yet the cause of this variability has rarely been explored. Quantitative genetic techniques for investigating evolutionary processes underlying morphological divergence are dependent on the availability of good ancestral models, a problem in hominoids where the fossil record is fragmentary and poorly understood. Here, we use a maximum likelihood approach based on a Brownian motion model of evolutionary change to estimate nested hypothetical ancestral forms from 15 extant hominoid taxa. These ancestors were then used to calculate rates of evolution along each branch of a phylogenetic tree using Lande's generalized genetic distance. Our results show that hominoid cranial evolution is characterized by strong stabilizing selection. Only two instances of directional selection were detected; the divergence of Homo from its last common ancestor with Pan, and the divergence of the lesser apes from their last common ancestor with the great apes. In these two cases, selection gradients reconstructed to identify the specific traits undergoing selection indicated that selection on basicranial flexion, cranial vault expansion and facial retraction characterizes the divergence of Homo, whereas the divergence of the lesser apes was defined by selection on neurocranial size reduction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/evo.13361

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