Developmental variation in ecogeographic body proportions



While ecogeographic variation in adult human body proportions has been extensively explored, relatively less attention has been paid to the effect of Bergmann's and Allen's rules on human body shape during growth. The relationship between climate and immature body form is particularly important, as immature mortality is high, mechanisms of thermoregulation differ between young and mature humans, and immature body proportions fluctuate due to basic parameters of growth. This study explores changes in immature ecogeographic body proportions via analyses of anthropometric data from children included in Eveleth and Tanner's (1976) Worldwide Variation in Human Growth, as well as limb proportion measurements in eight different skeletal samples.

Moderate to strong correlations exist between climatic data and immature stature, weight, BMI, and bi-iliac breadth; these relationships are as strong, if not stronger, in immature individuals as they are in adults. Correlations between climate and trunk height relative to stature are weak or nonexistent. Altitude also has significant effects on immature body form, with children from higher altitudes displaying smaller statures and lower body weights. Brachial and crural indices remain constant over the course of growth and display consistent, moderate correlations with latitude across ontogeny that are just as high as those detected in adults. The results of this study suggest that while some features of immature body form, such as bi-iliac breadth and intralimb indices, are strongly dictated by ecogeographic principles, other characteristics of immature body proportions are influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as nutrition and basic constraints of growth. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.