Eskimo craniofacial morphology, cold stress and the maxillary sinus


  • Brian T. Shea

    1. Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Anthropology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27706
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A determination of the capacity of the maxillary sinus was made for eight Eskimo populations, one Mongolian population and one American white population. Statistical analyses reveal strong and significant correlations of the mean temperature of the coldest month where these populations live with differences in mean maxillary sinus volume (MSV) values. Results indicate that maxillary sinus volume in Eskimo populations decreases in colder areas. These changes may be due to commensurate structural ramifications of internal nasal anatomy variation, specifically of the inferior concha (maxilloturbinal) and inferior meatus.

A review of the physiological, morphological and cultural responses of the Eskimo to cold suggests that only the facial area as a whole, and the internal nasal apparatus in particular, sustain significant cold exposure. The “cold-engineered” hypothesis of Mongoloid craniofacial form (Coon et al., '50) finds little support in the anthropological research and literature.