Fractal analysis of sagittal suture morphology

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Abstract

Quantifying shape is a broad problem in the morphological sciences. Most techniques for numerically describing shape abstract the shape into the most logical ideal Euclidean dimension. The fractional, or fractal, dimension is a simple computation that expresses shape in real, rather than ideal, space. The structured walk technique developed for the fractal analysis of rugged boundaries is applied here to the contour of the human sagittal suture in order to discriminate the separate morphological patterns of interfingering and interlocking. These attributes contribute differentially to the suture's “complexity,” a concept often used in biomechanical hypotheses. Previous techniques for estimating sutural complexity do not isolate small-scale from large-scale morphological patterns. Results indicate that despite the visual appearance of great variation, human sagittal sutures are remarkably consistent in the degree of complexity expressed separately by large-scale interfingering lateral excursions and small-scale interlocking ruggedness. There is no significant correlation between the absolute or bregma-lambda chord length of the human sagittal suture and its degree of complexity as determined by the structured walk technique.

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