Big-bodied males help us recognize that females have big pelves


  • Robert G. Tague

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803-4105
    • Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-4105
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Schultz ([1949] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 7:401–424) presented a conundrum: among primates, sexual dimorphism of the pelvis is a developmental adjunct to dimorphism in other aspects of the body, albeit in the converse direction. Among species in which males are larger than females in body size, females are larger than males in some pelvic dimensions; species with little sexual dimorphism in nonpelvic size show little pelvic dimorphism. Obstetrical difficulty does not explain this relationship. The present study addresses this issue, evaluating the relationship between pelvic and femoral sexual dimorphism in 12 anthropoid species. The hypothesis is that species in which males are significantly larger than females in femoral size will have a higher incidence, magnitude, and variability of pelvic sexual dimorphism, with females having relatively larger pelves than males, compared with species monomorphic in femoral size. The results are consistent with the hypothesis. The proposed explanation is that the default pelvic anatomy in adulthood is that of the female; testosterone redirects growth from the default type to that of the male by differentially enhancing and repressing growth among the pelvic dimensions. Testosterone also influences sexual dimorphism of the femur. The magnitude of the pelvic response to testosterone is greater in species that are sexually dimorphic in the femur than in those that are monomorphic. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.