• craniofacial morphology;
  • heterosis;
  • sexual dimorphism;
  • laboratory rearing;
  • Callitrichidae


The subspecies of saddle-back tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis) are known to be chromatically and morphologically diverse but little is known of the genetic basis for the observed morphological variation. The morphology of first generation subspecific hybrids can be compared to that of the parental subspecies to provide information on the extent and nature of genetic differences in morphology between subspecies. We compare two groups of saddle-back tamarin hybrids (S. f. illigeri × S. f. lagonotus and S. f. illigeri × S. f. leucogenys) to pure-bred members of their parental subspecies. These crosses were examined for heterosis, caused by allele frequency differences between the subspecies in combination with directional dominance.

Thirty-nine craniofacial measurements were derived from three-dimensional coordinates of landmarks on 355 adult tamarin skulls. These measurements were corrected for sex differences and differences due to environment (wild-derived vs. laboratory-born) prior to analysis of hybridity. Sex differences were minimal for these traits. Environment had a more significant effect on craniofacial morphology. Laboratory environments produce larger faces but smaller orbits, anterior cranial vaults, and cranial bases.

Significant heterosis was found for many individual traits and for the first principal component representing size and size-related shape measurements in the S. f. illigeri × S. f. lagonotus cross. The smaller samples involved in the S. f. illigeri× S. f. leucogenys cross led to a much lower number of statistically significant results, although most traits did display heterosis. Heterosis for craniofacial size was nearly statistically significant. These results suggest that there are large differences in allele frequencies among these subspecies of saddle-back tamarin for genes affecting craniofacial morphology. Based on these data we suggest that these subspecies are likely to be independent, largely isolated, evolutionary units. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.