Degrees of sexual dimorphism in Cebus and other new world monkeys

Thomas J. Masterson, Walter Carl Hartwig

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27 Scopus citations


Sexual dimorphism in primate species expresses the effects of phylogeny, life history, behavior, and ontogeny. The causes and implications of sexual dimorphism have been studied in several different primates using a variety of morphological databases such as body weight, canine length, and coat color and ornamentation. In addition to these different patterns of dimorphism, the degree to which a species is dimorphic results from a variety of possible causes. In this study we test the general hypothesis that a species highly dimorphic for one size-based index of dimorphism will be equally dimorphic (relative to other species) for other size-based indices. Specifically, the degree and pattern of sexual dimorphism in Cebus and several other New World monkey species is measured using craniometric data as a substitute for the troublesome range of variation in body weight estimates. In general, the rank ordering of species for dimorphism ratios differs considerably across neural vs. non-neural functional domains of the cranium. The relative degree of sexual dimorphism in different functional regions of the cranium is affected by the independent action of natural selection on those regions. Regions of the cranium upon which natural selection is presumed to have acted within a species show greater degrees of dimorphism than do the same regions in closely related taxa. Within Cebus, C. apella is consistently more dimorphic than other Cebus species for facial measurements, but not for neural or body weight measurements. The pattern in C. apella indicates no single best measurement of the degree of dimorphism in a species; rather, the relative degree of dimorphism applies only to the region being measured and may be enhanced by other selective pressures on morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1998


  • Body size
  • Canines
  • Capuchin
  • Greene's t-test
  • Platyrrhines


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