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Keywords:

  • natural selection;
  • mammalia;
  • osteology;
  • crania;
  • cranial ontogeny;
  • sexual selection

Abstract

The current study examines the frontal air sinus of the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) cranium with the aim of evaluating previously offered hypotheses as to why they have such an atypically voluminous frontal sinus relative to other artiodactyls. To date, no quantification of the frontal sinus in the adult or developing giraffe has been undertaken or compared to other artiodactyl species. Crania from eight species of adult artiodactyls, and giraffes varying in age from newborn to adult, were studied using CT scans to provide a volumetric assessment of the frontal sinus. Sinus volume was strongly correlated to cranial mass in the male giraffe ontogenetic series. The adult giraffe of both sexes were found to possess a far larger than predicted sinus volume relative to the relationship between frontal sinus volume and cranial mass observed in the other adult artiodactyls. Our results suggest that the volume of the frontal sinus in the giraffe is likely to be unique among artiodactyls, and the potential function and evolution we consider in light of several previously articulated hypotheses. Anat Rec, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.