Get access

Exploring artificial cranial deformation using elliptic Fourier analysis of procrustes aligned outlines


  • Martin Frieß,

    Corresponding author
    1. New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York 10024
    • Anthrotech Inc, 503 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs, OH 45387
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Michel Baylac

    1. Groupe de Travail “Morphométrie et Analyses des Formes” and CNRS ESA 8043, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, F-75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author


The anatomical effects of artificial cranial deformation on the face and the base have been subject to various metric approaches, including standard linear as well as finite element techniques, and have produced controversial results (Antón [1989] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 79:253–267; Kohn et al. [1993] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 90:147–158). It can be argued that diverging observations partly result from methodological constraints. The present study compares samples of intentionally deformed and undeformed human crania, using elliptic Fourier analysis (EFA), a morphometric approach which has been shown to be particularly appropriate for characterizing the shape of two-dimensional outlines and associated shape changes. We improve the standard EFA approach by adding a preliminary orientation of the outlines following the rotation parameters of a Procrustes superimposition, using multiple homologous landmarks called control points. The results confirm that circumferentially deformed skulls exhibit modifications of the basioccipital region, together with increased anterior and inferior facial projection. However, the degree to which basioccipital flattening is modified in circumferentially deformed Peruvians was found to be less marked than changes observed in the face. Some of the modifications observed here can be related to morphological trends existing in the population from which our sample was taken. The observation of other modifications may be subject to methodological constraints of standard morphometric approaches. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Get access to the full text of this article