The ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the cranium of Bornean orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) as detected by principal-components analysis

Thomas J. Masterson, Walter Leutenegger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ontogeny of cranial sexual dimorphism in the Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) is examined by means of principal-components analysis (PCA). Normalized first components are called allometry vectors or vectors of relative growth and show that sexual dimorphism is present at all stages of growth. Two patterns of sexual dimorphism are present: (1) sexual differences at age groups 2 and 3 are the result primarily of differences in principal component II scores, reflecting mainly shape-related differences, and (2) age groups 5, 6, and 7 show a trend of stronger size-related shape differences with increasing age in the allometry vector along with decreasing differences in principal component II scores, reflecting an increase in size-related shape differences between the sexes. Age group 4 shows a combination of both patterns. Our results support Shea's hypothesis (1985a) that when using multigroup PCAs in closely related taxa, the allometry vector will generally estimate the shape variation resulting from the extension of common growth allometry patterns (ontogenetic scaling). The second and subsequent components summarize shape variation from slope and intercept differences between the groups, provided that ontogenetic scaling is not solely responsible for all the shape differences present. Subanalyses of those dimensions previously found to show ontogenetic scaling and acceleration follow this pattern well. The total sample provides a pattern whereby ontogenetically scaled dimensions possess a stronger influence over accelerated dimensions but still generally follow Shea's hypothesis. Finally, variously derived coefficients provided several interesting findings: (1) strong evidence was found against multivariate isometry for both the pooled and the separate samples, (2) multivariate allometric coefficients for both sexes follow the general growth pattern of negative scaling in neurocranial dimensions and positive scaling in the viscerocranium, and (3) multivariate slopes have a very high correlation with bivariate slopes relative to the same independent X variable, thereby lending further support to Jolicoeur's (1963a, b) allometry generalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-539
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus
  • cranial allometry
  • principal-components analysis
  • sexual dimorphism


Dive into the research topics of 'The ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the cranium of Bornean orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) as detected by principal-components analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this