Volume 46, Issue 4 (July 2001)
Cranial Change in Americans: 1850–1975
This paper examines the pattern and magnitude of craniofacial change in American blacks and whites over the past 125 years. Standard metric data from 885 crania were used to document the changes from 1850 to 1975. Data from 19th century crania were primarily from anatomical collections, and 20th century data were available from the forensic anthropology data bank. Canonical correlation was used to obtain a linear function of cranial variables that correlates maximally with year of birth. Canonical correlations of year of birth with the linear function of cranial measurements ranged from 0.55 to 0.71, demonstrating that cranial morphology is strongly dependent on year of birth. During the 125 years under consideration, cranial vaults have become markedly higher, somewhat narrower, with narrower faces. The changes in cranial morphology are probably in large part due to changes in growth at the cranial base due to improved environmental conditions. The changes are likely a combination of phenotypic plasticity and genetic changes over this period.