Brief communication: Endocranial volumes in an ontogenetic sample of chimpanzees from the Taï Forest National Park, Ivory Coast

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012 Feb;147(2):319-25. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21641. Epub 2011 Nov 19.


Ontogenetic samples of endocranial volumes (EVs) from great apes and humans are critical for understanding the evolution of the brain growth pattern in the hominin lineage. However, high quality ontogenetic data are scarce, especially for nonhuman primates. Here, we provide original data derived from an osteological collection of a wild population of Pan troglodytes verus from the Taï Forest National Park, Ivory Coast. This sample is unique, because age, sex, and pedigree information are available for many specimens from behavioral observations in the wild. We scanned crania of all 30 immature specimens and 13 adult individuals using high-resolution computed tomography. We then created virtual casts of the bony braincase (endocasts) to measure EVs. We also measured cranial length, width, and height and attempted to relate cranial distances to EV via regression analysis. Our data are consistent with previous studies. The only neonate in the sample has an EV of 127 cm(3) or 34% of the adult mean. EV increases rapidly during early ontogeny. The average adult EV in this sample is 378.7 ± 30.1 cm(3) . We found sexual dimorphism in adults; males seem to be already larger than females before adult EV is attained. Regressions on cranial width and multiple regression provide better estimates for EV than regressions on cranial length or height. Increasing the sample size and compiling more high quality ontogenetic data of EV will help to reconcile ongoing discussions about the evolution of hominin brain growth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Female
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pan troglodytes / anatomy & histology*
  • Pan troglodytes / growth & development
  • Skull / anatomy & histology*
  • Skull / growth & development