Quantitative genetics of skeletal nonmetric traits in the rhesus macaques of Cayo Santiago. III. Relative heritability of skeletal nonmetric and metric traits



This study addresses the long-standing controversy in skeletal biology concerning the relative utility of skeletal metric and nonmetric traits for studies of biological relationship. This controversy centers on the relative heritability of these two trait sets. This paper presents heritabilities for a series of skeletal metric and nonmetric traits measured with the same sample of mother-offspring pairs from the Cayo Santiago skeletal collection of rhesus macaques. Skeletal nonmetric traits display significantly greater heritability estimates than metric traits. This difference is due primarily to the high heritability estimates of hyperostotic nonmetric traits. Foraminal traits are not significantly more heritable than skeletal metric traits. The generality of this pattern of heritability values, in which hyperostotic nonmetric traits are more highly heritable than foraminal nonmetric and metric traits, depends on future empirical study of the correlation of heritability values in populations and theoretical work.