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Concept: Morphometrics


Competition is one of the most cited mechanisms to explain secondary sexual dimorphism in animals. Nonetheless, it has been proposed that sexual dimorphism in bat wings is also a result of adaptive pressures to compensate additional weight caused by fetus or pup carrying during the reproductive period of females. The main objective of this study is to verify the existence of sexual dimorphism in Sturnira lilium wings. We employed geometric morphometrics techniques using anatomical landmarks superimposition to obtain size (Centroid Size) and shape variables of wings, which were reduced by Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA). We also employed classical morphometrics using wing length measurements to compare efficiency between these two morphometric approaches and make comparisons using wing area measurements. LDA indicated significant differences between wing shapes of males and females, with 91% (stepwise classification) and 80% (leave-one-out cross validation) of correct classification. However, the size variable obtained did not contribute to such classifications. We have observed larger areas in female wings, but we found no differences in wing length measurements and no allometric effects in wing length, shape and area measurements. Interestingly, our study has provided evidences of morphological differences where classical morphometrics have failed. LDA and area measurements analyses revealed that females have a different area distribution in distinct portions of the wing, with wider dactylopatagia and plagiopatagia, and wingtips more triangular than males. No differences in body length or relative wing length were observed between the sexes, but pregnant females have more body weight than non-pregnant females and males. Our findings suggest that sexual dimorphism in the wing shape of S. lilium is probably related to the increase in flight efficiency of females during reproductive period. It decreases wing loading in specific portions of the wing and reduces energy cost to maintain a faster and maneuverable flight.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Female, Sexual dimorphism, Gender, Sex, Wing, Morphometrics


Psittacosaurus is one of the most abundant and speciose genera in the Dinosauria, with fifteen named species. The genus is geographically and temporally widespread with large sample sizes of several of the nominal species allowing detailed analysis of intra- and interspecific variation. We present a reanalysis of three separate, coeval species within the Psittacosauridae; P. lujiatunensis, P. major, and Hongshanosaurus houi from the Lujiatun beds of the Yixian Formation, northeastern China, using three-dimensional geometric morphometrics on a sample set of thirty skulls in combination with a reevaluation of the proposed character states for each species. Using these complementary methods, we show that individual and taphonomic variation are the joint causes of a large range of variation among the skulls when they are plotted in a morphospace. Our results demonstrate that there is only one species of Psittacosaurus within the Lujiatun beds and that the three nominal species represent different taphomorphotypes of P. lujiatunensis. The wide range of geometric morphometric variation in a single species of Psittacosaurus implies that the range of variation found in other dinosaurian groups may also be related to taphonomic distortion rather than interspecific variation. As the morphospace is driven primarily by variation resulting from taphonomic distortion, this study demonstrates that the geometric morphometric approach can only be used with great caution to delineate interspecific variation in Psittacosaurus and likely other dinosaur groups without a complementary evaluation of character states. This study presents the first application of 3D geometric morphometrics to the dinosaurian morphospace and the first attempt to quantify taphonomic variation in dinosaur skulls.

Concepts: Liaoning, Dinosaur, Morphometrics, Psittacosaurus, Yixian Formation, Ceratopsia, Psittacosauridae, Hongshanosaurus


We studied sexually dimorphic differences in the ilium using geometric morphometric analysis of 10 osteometric landmarks recorded by multislice computed tomography, based on three-dimensional reconstructions of 188 children (95 boys, 93 girls) of mixed origins living in the area of Toulouse, southern France, and ranging in age from 1 to 18 years. We used geometric morphometrics methodology first to test sexual dimorphism in size (centroid size) and shape (Procrustes residuals) and second to examine patterns of shape change with age (development) and size change with age (growth). On the basis of statistical significance testing, the ilium shape became sexually dimorphic at 11 years of age, although visible shape differences were observed as early as 1 year of age. There was no statistically significant difference in size between sexes. Trajectories of shape (development) and size (growth) differed throughout ontogeny and between sexes.

Concepts: Statistics, Statistical significance, Sexual dimorphism, Ronald Fisher, Statistical hypothesis testing, P-value, Procrustes analysis, Morphometrics


In terms of frequency, the spleen is the first organ affected in abdominal trauma, resulting even today in a high rate of mortality (10%). Nevertheless, very few studies have investigated splenic quantitative morphometry as to shape and spatial orientation. Therefore, we analysed healthy spleen variability in order to integrate it in its environment and to correlate its morphometric parameters to anthropometric characteristics.

Concepts: Biology, Medical imaging, Lymphatic system, Spleen, Abdomen, Procrustes analysis, Morphometrics, Comparative anatomy


Evaluating phenotypic plasticity in attachment organs of parasites can provide information on the capacity to colonize new hosts and illuminate evolutionary processes driving host specificity. We analysed the variability in shape and size of the dorsal and ventral anchors of Ligophorus cephali from Mugil cephalus by means of geometric morphometrics and multivariate statistics. We also assessed the morphological integration between anchors and between the roots and points in order to gain insight into their functional morphology. Dorsal and ventral anchors showed a similar gradient of overall shape variation, but the amount of localized changes was much higher in the former. Statistical models describing variations in shape and size revealed clear differences between anchors. The dorsal anchor/bar complex seems more mobile than the ventral one in Ligophorus, and these differences may reflect different functional roles in attachment to the gills. The lower residual variation associated with the ventral anchor models suggests a tighter control of their shape and size, perhaps because these anchors seem to be responsible for firmer attachment and their size and shape would allow more effective responses to characteristics of the microenvironment within the individual host. Despite these putative functional differences, the high level of morphological integration indicates a concerted action between anchors. In addition, we found a slight, although significant, morphological integration between roots and points in both anchors, which suggests that a large fraction of the observed phenotypic variation does not compromise the functional role of anchors as levers. Given the low level of genetic variation in our sample, it is likely that much of the morphological variation reflects host-driven plastic responses. This supports the hypothesis of monogenean specificity through host-switching and rapid speciation. The present study demonstrates the potential of geometric morphometrics to provide new and previously unexplored insights into the functional morphology of attachment and evolutionary processes of host-parasite coevolution.

Concepts: Genetics, Natural selection, Evolution, Evolutionary biology, Phenotype, Mugilidae, Procrustes analysis, Morphometrics


To assess the suitability of retinal images held in the UK Biobank - the largest retinal data repository in a prospective population-based cohort - for computer assisted vascular morphometry, generating measures that are commonly investigated as candidate biomarkers of systemic disease.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Diseases and disorders, United Kingdom, Common law, Morphometrics


Many sets of human facial photographs produced in Western cultures are available for scientific research. We report here on the development of a face database of Turkish undergraduate student targets. High-resolution standardized photographs were taken and supported by the following materials: (a) basic demographic and appearance-related information, (b) two types of landmark configurations (for Webmorph and geometric morphometrics (GM)), © facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) measurement, (d) information on photography parameters, (e) perceptual norms provided by raters. We also provide various analyses and visualizations of facial variation based on rating norms using GM. Finally, we found that there is sexual dimorphism in fWHR in our sample but that this is accounted for by body mass index. We present the pattern of associations between rating norms, GM and fWHR measurements. The database and supporting materials are freely available for scientific research purposes.

Concepts: Scientific method, Body mass index, Science, Research, Face, Faces, Western culture, Morphometrics


Facial markers of body composition are frequently studied in evolutionary psychology and are important in computational and forensic face recognition. We assessed the association of body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) with facial shape and texture (color pattern) in a sample of young Middle European women by a combination of geometric morphometrics and image analysis. Faces of women with high BMI had a wider and rounder facial outline relative to the size of the eyes and lips, and relatively lower eyebrows. Furthermore, women with high BMI had a brighter and more reddish skin color than women with lower BMI. The same facial features were associated with WHR, even though BMI and WHR were only moderately correlated. Yet BMI was better predictable than WHR from facial attributes. After leave-one-out cross-validation, we were able to predict 25% of variation in BMI and 10% of variation in WHR by facial shape. Facial texture predicted only about 3-10% of variation in BMI and WHR. This indicates that facial shape primarily reflects total fat proportion, rather than the distribution of fat within the body. The association of reddish facial texture in high-BMI women may be mediated by increased blood pressure and superficial blood flow as well as diet. Our study elucidates how geometric morphometric image analysis serves to quantify the effect of biological factors such as BMI and WHR to facial shape and color, which in turn contributes to social perception.

Concepts: Obesity, Mass, Body mass index, Medical signs, Waist-hip ratio, Body shape, Procrustes analysis, Morphometrics


Several studies investigating macroevolutionary skull shape variation in fossil reptiles were published recently, often using skull reconstructions taken from the scientific literature. However, this approach could be potentially problematic, because skull reconstructions might differ notably due to incompleteness and/or deformation of the material. Furthermore, the influence of intraspecific variation has usually not been explored in these studies. Both points could influence the results of morphometric analyses by affecting the relative position of species to each other within the morphospace. The aim of the current study is to investigate the variation in morphometric data between skull reconstructions based on the same specimen, and to compare the results to shape variation occurring in skull reconstructions based on different specimens of the same species (intraspecific variation) and skulls of closely related species (intraspecific variation). Based on the current results, shape variation of different skull reconstructions based on the same specimen seems to have generally little influence on the results of a geometric morphometric analysis, although it cannot be excluded that some erroneous reconstructions of poorly preserved specimens might cause problems occasionally. In contrast, for different specimens of the same species the variation is generally higher than between different reconstructions based on the same specimen. For closely related species, at least with similar ecological preferences in respect to the dietary spectrum, the degree of interspecific variation can overlap with that of intraspecific variation, most probably due to similar biomechanical constraints.

Concepts: Evolution, Biology, Skull, The Current, Synapsid, Specimen, Procrustes analysis, Morphometrics


In this study, we assess the precision, accuracy, and repeatability of craniodental landmarks (Types I, II, and III, plus curves of semilandmarks) on a single macaque cranium digitally reconstructed with three different surface scanners and a microCT scanner. Nine researchers with varying degrees of osteological and geometric morphometric knowledge landmarked ten iterations of each scan (40 total) to test the effects of scan quality, researcher experience, and landmark type on levels of intra- and interobserver error. Two researchers additionally landmarked ten specimens from seven different macaque species using the same landmark protocol to test the effects of the previously listed variables relative to species-level morphological differences (i.e., observer variance versus real biological variance). Error rates within and among researchers by scan type were calculated to determine whether or not data collected by different individuals or on different digitally rendered crania are consistent enough to be used in a single dataset. Results indicate that scan type does not impact rate of intra- or interobserver error. Interobserver error is far greater than intraobserver error among all individuals, and is similar in variance to that found among different macaque species. Additionally, experience with osteology and morphometrics both positively contribute to precision in multiple landmarking sessions, even where less experienced researchers have been trained in point acquisition. Individual training increases precision (although not necessarily accuracy), and is highly recommended in any situation where multiple researchers will be collecting data for a single project.

Concepts: Bone, Biology, Evaluation, Difference, Experience, Landmark, Morphometrics, Landmarks