The ontogeny of cranial sexual dimorphism in two old world monkeys:Macaca fascicularis (Cercopithecinae) andNasalis larvatus (Colobinae)

  • Matthew J. Ravosa

DOI: 10.1007/BF02547620

Cite this article as:
Ravosa, M.J. International Journal of Primatology (1991) 12: 403. doi:10.1007/BF02547620


Allometric and heterochronic approaches to sexual dimorphism have contributed much to our understanding of the evolutionary morphology of the primate skull and dentition. To date, however, extensive studies of sexual dimorphism have been carried out only on the great apes and a few cercopithecine monkeys. To fill this gap, representative dimensions of the skull were collected among ontogenetic series of two dimorphic Old World monkeys:Macaca fascicularis (Cercopithecinae) andNasalis larvatus (Colobinae). The ontogeny of cranial sexual dimorphism was evaluated with least-squares bivariate regression, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results indicate that within each species the sexes typically exhibit nonsignificant differences in ANCOVAs of ontogenetic trajectories, except for bivariate comparisons with bicanine breadth. AmongMacaca fascicularis, ANOVAs between males and females of common dental ages show that adult, and frequently subadult, males are significantly larger than females, i.e., sexual dimorphism develops via time and rate hypermorphosis (males primarily grow for a longer time period as well as faster). AmongNasalis larvatus, however, comparisons between males and females of common dental ages indicate that only adult males are significantly larger than females, i.e., sexual dimorphism develops primarily via time hypermorphosis (males grow for a longer time period). Within both species, females appear to exhibit an early growth spurt at dental age 2; that is, many cranial measures for females tend to be larger than those for males. Measures of the circumorbital region (e.g., browridge height), body weight, and bicanine breadth exhibit typically the highest sexual dimorphism ratios. The fact that postcanine toothrow length and neurocranial volume (less so inNasalis) demonstrate very low dimorphism ratios generally supports assertions that postnatal systemic growth (and associated selective pressures thereon) exerts a greater influence on facial, but not neural, dental, or orbital, development (Cochard, 1985, 1987; Shea, 1985a,b, 1986; Shea and Gomez, 1988; Sheaet al., 1990). Additional consideration of ontogenetic differences between species generally supports previous functional interpretations of subfamilial differences in cranial form related to agonistic displays in cercopithecine monkeys (Ravosa, 1990).

Key words

sexual dimorphism ontogeny allometry heterochrony long-tailed macaque proboscis monkey 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew J. Ravosa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Anthropology & AnatomyDuke University Medical CenterDurham

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