Modularity and Morphological Integration in Human Skulls a Geometric Morphometric Approach


Morphological Integration and modularity are concepts that refer to the covariation level between the components of a structure. Morphological modules are those structures that have components that strongly covary, which in turn are relatively independent to other modules. Morphological integration is instead, the coordinated morphological variation of a functional whole. Traditionally the skull has been divided in two modules based on their different developmental origins the splanchnocranium and the neurocranium. It has been suggested that the craniofacial development is highly integrated both functional as ontogenetically. The modularity hypothesis based on different developmental origins was tested, by using the RV coefficient. Later, the integration level was assessed applying a partial least-squares analysis (PLS). The underlying aim was to know whether the traditional division between splanchno and neurocranium has a modular basis, as well as the morphological integration level between these two structures.

In International Journal of Morphology 32(1),299-304 (2014)
Thomas A. Püschel
Thomas A. Püschel
Postdoctoral researcher

I am an evolutionary anthropologist and vertebrate palaeobiologist mainly focused on human, primate and mammalian evolution. My main interest is to study organismal evolution by reconstructing and comparing the palaeobiology of fossils to their living ecological relatives. In order to do this, I apply a combination of phylogenetics, 3D morphometrics, virtual biomechanical techniques, computational simulations, statistical modelling, phylogenetic comparative methods, and fieldwork. I am part of the Venditti group, University of Reading, within the framework of the Leverhulme project ‘The evolutionary and biogeographical routes to hominin diversity’. I am also a research affiliate at the Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford, where I work together with the Paleo-Primate Project Gorongosa, Mozambique.