Geometric morphometric assessment of cranial shape change in trigonocephaly


Investigating the only known prehistoric example of trigonocephaly, a condition thought to result from premature sutura frontalis fusion, we address cranial shape changes in this condition that have been previously limited in scope and based on living individuals.

The individual derives from a prehistoric context on Santa Rosa Island (CA-SRI-24), dates to 1500-1650 AD, and is housed at the PHMA, UC Berkeley. Ninety-three 3D landmarks were collected from normal skulls for comparison (n=43, range from 6.0-8.0 years) with a Microscribe 3D digitizer and from a CT scan of the trigonocephalic (8.0 years ±24 months) using Amira 5.5. Skull shape was explored using Principle Components Analysis (PCA) on Procrustes-aligned shape variables. Principle components of the face and vault separated provide more of an insight into the overall shape change and potential cause.

The PCA reveals major shape change in the face and anterior cranial base. These changes are coupled with cranial shortening and supramastoid-level broadening. Maximum cranial breadth is displaced anteroinferiorly. The degree of shape change occurring in virtually all regions of the skull in this malformation is well beyond that currently documented and has potential implications for understanding suture closure, skull growth, brain development, and modern surgical intervention practices.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Geometric morphometric assessment of cranial shape change in trigonocephaly. Laura Cirillo, Alexandra McGough, Julie Ding, Rebecca Jabbour, Gary Richards. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397341)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;