Interspecific perspective on mechanical and nonmechanical models of primate circumorbital morphology

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Abstract

Linear dimensions and angular orientations of the browridge, postorbital bar, and postorbital septum were obtained from a representative series of primates and compared with variables associated with several nonmechanical and biomechanical/mechanical models put forward to explain the form and function of the circumorbital region. Analyses of the results indicate that face size is the primary determinant of variation in primate circumorbital morphology. Anteroposterior browridge thickness is correlated with neural–orbital disjunction among anthropoid primates, but not among prosimians. This difference appears related to differences in the construction of the upper face and anterior cranial fossa between prosimians and anthropoids. Little support is demonstrated for the anterior dental loading model of browridge development. Mediolateral postorbital bar width and (to a lesser degree) browridge height are correlated with neurofacial torsion during mastication and variation in masticatory muscle size. These analyses further suggest that since circumorbital structures (especially the browridges) are located the farthest away from the chewing apparatus, they are least affected by masticatory stresses.

Ancillary