Secular changes in craniofacial morphology of the portuguese using geometric morphometrics



This study examines patterns of secular change in cranial morphology in the New Lisbon collection, a documented skeletal collection from Lisbon, Portugal with birth years from 1806 to 1954. This period represents a time when Lisbon was undergoing increased urbanization and population growth, as well as changes in mortality and fertility patterns. Previous studies from the U.S., Europe, and Japan have reported significant secular changes in cranial morphology over the past 200 years. In the current study, secular changes were analyzed using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics methods. The results from this study demonstrate a significant change in cranial morphology over the roughly 150-year period. Allometry was rejected as a causal factor of this change because there was no association found between temporal change and size. The pattern of temporal change is similar to that observed in other populations in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, including decreased facial breadth and a more inferiorly placed cranial base. This study, along with previous research, suggests a similar pattern of change occurs in genetically and geographically diverse populations experiencing modern environmental conditions. We argue that because the secular changes are focused in the cranial base, a region of the skull that experiences a relatively early growth curve, changes related to declines in childhood morbidity and mortality are likely important factors related to the observed changes. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.