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Side Differences in the Skull of Sheep: An Assessment by Geometric Morphometrics
Annual Research & Review in Biology,
Effects of perturbations during development can be due to environmental and/or genetic factors, resulting in increased developmental instability which in turn can be expressed as fluctuating asymmetry (FA), defined as the non-directional deviation (right-left differences) from bilateral symmetry. However, other asymmetry types can appear, such as and directional asymmetry (DA), characterized by a distribution skewed to one side (right or left) at the, which is originated as a response to external stimuli that affect differentially on both sides of the organism. In order to describe asymmetric patterns in the ovine skull, we studied 165 specimens from animals belonging to the sheep breed “Navarra” from North Spain, using geometric morphometric methods. On digital pictures, we analyzed two midline and 8 bilateral two-dimensional landmarks on skull dorsal aspect. Results showed that FA accounted for a reduced amount of total variation, while DA explained most of it. We suggest that the presence of side differences due to lateralized muscular function (mastication) is the most important factor in skull asymmetry. Obtained results should provide a basis for relating asymmetries to the mechanics of cranial skeletum in sheep.
- directional asymmetry
- morphological variation
- navarra sheep breed
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