Publication details

Studying factors influencing facial developmental instability



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Annals of Human Biology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Facial variability; fluctuating asymmetry; developmental instability; facial modularity; facial integrity
Description Background: Developmental instability is a component of non-genetic variation that results from random variation in developmental processes. It is considered a sensitive indicator of the physiological state of individuals. It is reflected in various ways, but in this study we focussed on its reflection in fluctuating asymmetry (FA) and morphological integration. Aim: To assess how, if at all, variations of facial morphology mirror developmental instability across childhood with respect to sex, growth rate and socioeconomic/environmental factors. Subjects and methods: A set of 210 three-dimensional facial models (of children aged between 6.3 and 14.3 years) originating from the FIDENTIS 3D Face Database was subjected to landmark-based methods of geometric morphometrics to quantify the degree of facial asymmetry and facial morphological integration. In addition, the association with age, sex, and socioeconomic factors was assessed. Results: Our results showed a nonlinear increase of FA with age up to the age of 14 years. The pattern of sex-related variants in facial FA differed in relation to age, as girls exhibited higher values of FA than boys up to the age of 9 years. We found that a signal of modularity based on functional demands and organisation of the face is of particular importance. Here, girls exhibited higher morphological covariation among modules. During more rapid adolescence-related growth, however, covariation among modules at the asymmetrical level decreased in both sexes. Conclusion: We can conclude that facial morphology was shown to be strongly integrated, particularly until adolescence. This covariation can facilitate an increase of FA. In addition, the results of this study indicate there is a weak association between socioeconomic stress and facial asymmetries. In contrast, sex and growth rate are reflected in developmental instability.
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