Ontogeny of the early hominid face

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New approaches to the study of early hominid mineralised tissue biology have been developed and it is now possible to investigate actual growth mechanisms responsible for the development of fossil bones and teeth. Dynamic features of skeletal morophogenesis in ontogeny and phylogeny can thus be described. Microanatomical studies of immature hominid facial material reveal that specimens attributed to Australopithecus retained the primitive hominoid facial remodeling pattern, reflecting their relatively prognathic facial profiles compared to modern Homo. Paranthropus exhibited a unique facial remodeling pattern somewhat paralleling modern Homo, accounting for the relative orthognathy of this taxon. Early Homo facial remodeling could not be as satisfactorily appraised, but mandibular and lower midfacial remodeling was demonstrably like that of Australopithecus while upper midfacial remodeling has remained equivocal. It is concluded that ontogenetic data can potentially test claimed homologies and be a useful variable in taxonomic and phylogenetic inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-773
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1989


  • Australopithecus
  • Ontogeny
  • Paranthropus
  • SEM
  • bone remodeling
  • craniofacial growth
  • hominid
  • phylogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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