Temporal squama shape in fossil hominins: Relationships to cranial shape and a determination of character polarity


  • Claire E. Terhune,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402
    • Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Box 872402, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402, USA
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  • Andrew S. Deane

    1. Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65212
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In 1943, Weidenreich described the squamosal suture of Homo erectus as long, low, and simian in character and suggested that this morphology was dependent upon the correlation between the size of the calvarium and the face. Many researchers now consider this character to be diagnostic of H. erectus. The relationship between cranial size and shape and temporal squama morphology, however, is unclear, and several authors have called for detailed measurements of squamosal variation to be collected before any conclusions are drawn regarding the nature of the morphology observed in H. erectus. Thirteen fossil and extant taxa were examined to address two questions: 1) Are size and shape of the temporal squama correlated with cranial vault morphology? and 2) Is the H. erectus condition plesiomorphic? To answer these questions, measurements were collected and indices were calculated for squamosal suture height, length, and area in relation to metric variables describing cranial size and shape. A two-dimensional morphometric study was also completed using High Resolution-Polynomial Curve Fitting (HR-PCF) to investigate correlations between curvature of the squamosal suture and curvature of the cranial vault. Results of both analyses indicate that squamosal suture form is related to cranial size and shape. Furthermore, the plesiomorphic condition of the squamosal suture for hominins was identified as high and moderately arched; this condition is retained in H. erectus and is distinct from the great ape condition. It is suggested that this similarity is the result of increased cranial length without a corresponding increase in cranial height. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.