Ontogenetic scaling of the human nose in a longitudinal sample: implications for genus Homo facial evolution.
Researchers have hypothesized that nasal morphology, both in archaic Homo and in recent humans, is influenced by body mass and associated oxygen consumption demands required for tissue maintenance. Similarly, recent studies of the adult human nasal region have documented key differences in nasal form between males and females that are potentially linked to sexual dimorphism in body size, composition, and energetics. To better understand this potential developmental and functional dynamic, we first assessed sexual dimorphism in the nasal cavity in recent humans to determine when during ontogeny male-female differences in nasal cavity size appear. Next, we assessed whether there are significant differences in nasal/body size scaling relationships in males and females during ontogeny. Using a mixed longitudinal sample we collected cephalometric and anthropometric measurements from n = 20 males and n = 18 females from 3.0 to 20.0+ years of age totaling n = 290 observations. We found that males and females exhibit similar nasal size values early in ontogeny and that sexual dimorphism in nasal size appears during adolescence. Moreover, when scaled to body size, males exhibit greater positive allometry in nasal size compared to females. This differs from patterns of sexual dimorphism in overall facial size, which are already present in our earliest age groups. Sexually dimorphic differences in nasal development and scaling mirror patterns of ontogenetic variation in variables associated with oxygen consumption and tissue maintenance. This underscores the importance of considering broader systemic factors in craniofacial development and may have important implications for the study of patters craniofacial evolution in the genus Homo.