Patterns of morphological variation play an important role in evolutionary diversification and are critical to an informed interpretation of interspecific differences. When patterns of genetic variation have not diverged substantially, it is possible to reconstruct the differences in selection which gave rise to morphological differences among extant species. Morphological variation patterns are compared between two tamarin species, the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) and the saddle-back tamarin (S. fuscicollis illigeri).
Genetic, phenotypic, and environmental variance/covariance and correlation matrices were obtained for a series of 39 cranial characters in each species (cotton-top tamarin, N = 328; saddle-back tamarin, N = 209) and for the species combined using crania from individuals of known genealogical relationship. After accounting for the effects of estimation error on measures of matrix similarity, patterns of phenotypic, genetic, and environmental variation and correlation were found to be very similar across species and among the types of variance within species. Taking the saddle-back tamarins as the standard, cotton-top tamarins have been selected for an enlarged anterior temporalis attachment area and increased facial prognathism. In primates, an enlarged anterior temporalis muscle is associated with incisive food preparation, especially at wide gape.