Tooth scaling and evolutionary dwarfism: An investigation of allometry in human pygmies

Brian T. Shea*, Anne M. Gomez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Gould has predicted that in rapidly dwarfed lineages the postcanine teeth exhibit a different scaling pattern than is the normal interspecific trend. His prediction of strong negative allometry has not been frequently tested in quantitative detail. Here we present results of scaling analyses of the molar teeth in African pygmies compared with other Africans of larger size and in Philippine pygmies compared with Filipinos of larger size. We find a pattern of strong negative allometry of tooth size to skull and body size in both these comparisons. This scaling pattern is explained by recourse to the developmental bases (known or inferred) of dwarfing in these populations. Body size decrease is related to low levels of the growth control substance insulin‐like growth factor I (IGF‐I), which does not appear to affect the size of the dentition. The implications of such developmental information for our understanding of allometric patterns in general, and dwarfing events in particular, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-132
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1988


  • Body size
  • Dentition
  • Development
  • Insulin‐like growth factor I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Anatomy


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