• asymmetry;
  • Eidolon helvum;
  • fruit bats;
  • Gulf of Guinea;
  • Rousettus egyptiacus;
  • three-dimensional coordinates;
  • variance components

A set of cranial characters was examined in the fruit bats Rousettus egyptiacus and Eidolon helvum to compare trends and relative importance of major components of bilateral morphometric variation, and their relationship with character size. Using two-way, sides-by-individuals ANOVA, four components of variation were estimated for each bilateral variable: individual variation (I), directional asymmetry (DA), non-directional asymmetry (NDA) and measurement error (E). Both species exhibit similar major trends of variation in asymmetry across characters, as shown by principal component analysis, using variance components as variables. Degree of interspecific congruence among characters was confirmed by a two-way ANOVA with species and variance components as fixed factors. Congruence of asymmetry patterns between species suggests that the concept of population asymmetry parameter (PAP) could be extended to higher hierarchies. PAPs above the species level may result from common mechanisms or similar developmental constraints acting on species’ buffering capacities and morphological integration processes.