Frontal and facial flatness of major human populations

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2000 Jan;111(1):105-34. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(200001)111:1<105::AID-AJPA7>3.0.CO;2-O.


In the present study, the frontal and facial features of 112 populations from around the world are compared in terms of frontal and facial flatness measurements. Univariate analyses and canonical correlation analysis were applied to six indices representing flatness of frontal and facial bones. The deep infraglabellar notch, marked prognathism, and flat frontal bone show distinctive Australian/Melanesian characters among recent populations. Very flat faces in the transverse plane are the most common condition in eastern Asians. Some subSaharan Africans share similar characteristics with Australians in terms of marked prognathism and flat frontal bones in the sagittal plane on the one hand, and with eastern Asians on the other hand, for flat nasal and zygomaxillary regions. These results are not necessarily inconsistent with the evidence for regional continuity. The examination of relationships between frontal and facial flatness through canonical correlation analysis reveals a significant association between morphological features such as a deep infraglabellar notch, prognathism, flat frontal bone, and flat faces in the transverse plane. In this context, together with the generalized features of the late Pleistocene fossil record, the features of Australians having transversely projecting faces and of eastern Asians showing weak infraglabellar notches, ortho-/mosognathism, and rounded frontal bones can be interpreted as a differential retention of ancestral traits of anatomically modern humans. This may allow us to suppose that the frontal and facial flatness features treated herein can be explained by the hypothesis of a single origin of anatomically modern humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Face / anatomy & histology*
  • Fossils
  • Genetics, Population
  • Humans
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group*
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Skull / anatomy & histology