Growth pattern of the maxillary sinus in the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata): reflections on the structural role of the paranasal sinuses


Correspondence to: Dr Th. Koppe, Department of Anatomy, Okayama University School of Dentistry, Shikata-cho 2–5–1, Okayama, 700 Japan. Fax: +81-86-222-4572; e-mail:


To investigate the claim that the primate paranasal sinuses possess not a functional but a structural role associated with the skull architecture (Blaney, 1990), the relationship between the maxillary sinus and the skull architecture was studied ontogenetically in 30 skulls of male and female Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Coronal CT scan series and computerised 3-dimensional images served to evaluate the maxillary sinus. The definitive hemispherical shape of the sinus was already achieved after the completion of the primary dentition. Sinus volume increased with a trend indicating positive allometry. When compared with an ontogenetic data set of orang-utan (Koppe et al. 1995), however, the growth rate of the maxillary sinus of M. fuscata was significantly less. The maxillary sinus both of male and female macaques enlarged according to a common growth pattern. However, no sexual dimorphism could be established for the maxillary sinus size. Although the volume of the right maxillary sinus was normally bigger than that of the left side, the results suggested that asymmetry in maxillary sinus volume is related neither to skull size nor sex. Whereas a correlation analysis showed close relationships between the maxillary sinus volume and external cranial dimensions, the partial correlation coefficients revealed that these relationships were highly influenced by skull size. Although it cannot be ruled out that the paranasal sinuses are to some extent linked to the skull architecture, this study does not support a solely structural role for these air cavities.