The integration of the brain and face and to what extent this relationship constrains or enables evolutionary change in the craniofacial complex is an issue of long-standing interest in vertebrate evolution. To investigate brain-face integration, we studied the covariation between the forebrain and midface at gestational days 10-10.5 in four strains of laboratory mice. We found that phenotypic variation in the forebrain is highly correlated with that of the face during face formation such that variation in the size of the forebrain correlates with the degree of prognathism and orientation of the facial prominences. This suggests strongly that the integration of the brain and face is relevant to the etiology of midfacial malformations such as orofacial clefts. This axis of integration also has important implications for the evolutionary developmental biology of the mammalian craniofacial complex.
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