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Epigenetic variants of the human skull. By G. Hauser and G. F. De Stefano. Stuttgart E. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. 1989. vi + 301 pp. figures tables index

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bone remains. Katzenberg and Krouse wrote
an interesting pa er on the value of using
isotopes to help i(Pentify a person’s locale of
origin or where that person may have most
recently been. Bones reflect the chemicals
we ingest and there seems to be a regionally
identifiable fingerprint in the form of stable
isotopes for geographic areas. Using hair,
fingernails, and bone collagen the authors
demonstrate that by using multiple isotope
analyses there may be help in separating
co-mingled remains and establishing where
a body map have originated. In a separate
article Skinner takes up the question oE Canadian forensic anthropologistswho are not
employedby law enforcement a encies being
ignored by those agencies an essentially
relegated to dealing with questions concerning the recovery of remains in archaeological
sites. This problem is not unique to Canada
and it is one wherein we as professionals are
going to have to become more aggressive in
advertising our abilities and demonstrating
our com etencies to the legal elements. We
are a va uable, yet large1 ignored resource.
Skinner and Iscan ma e some important
comments in their preface to the sym osium.
There is alot t o do out there, but ant ropolo-
’sts are infrequent1 asked to participate.
perhaps we are a so not internally as
su portivekooperative as we ou ht to be
eit er; we need to be more invoved with
other forensic specialists when their areas of
ex ertise can solve roblems we may not be
ab e to handle. Ant ropologists involved in
forensic science need to wake up to our international fellows, re larly communicate
with them, and esta%sh worldwide data
banks that we can all draw upon for use in
identification, research, and the development of new technolo ies. They must con4
to mcve beymd t -e merely descriptive
to the more analytical, using every advanced
analytical technique at hand, and should do
more than give lip service to the reality of
living skeletal systems that interact with
their respective environments through time.
posium was an encoura ’ng beginThis
ning, ut we need to maintain t at motion
and view our disci line not as a provincial
thing, but as globafin context and in fact.
Clark College
Vancouver,British Columbia
SKULL.By treated by the authors as the catalyst for
G. Hauser and G.F. De Stefano,Stuttgart: population applications. The Berry and Berry
E, Schweizerbart‘sche Veriagsbuchhand- trait ’listof 30 variants is also taken as a focal
lung. 1989. vi + 301 pp., figures, tabies, paint for discussing the methodologies of
trait scoring though a number of their traits
index. DM 128, (cloth).
were subsequent1 severely criticized.
Consequently,t e choice of the descriptive
This atlas, a comprehensive survey of 84 title “epigenetic variants” rather than the
minor skeletal variants of the human skull, more noncommittal “nonmetrictraits” is exis intended to serve as a reference text for pected, since this book sees them as expresstudying such traits. The list of characters is sions of genes affecting the development of
judged b the authors to represent the most the connective tissues within a modifying
used an the most useful cranial traits for environmental milieu. Considerin that the
the analysis of archaeological and anatomi- authors adhere to Falconer’s mode of inhercal skeletal samples. The major impetus for itance for the traits, which identifies an
the book comes from the employment of mi- underlying continuous variable or “liability”
nor skeletal variants in assessing population that is both genetic and environmental in
variation in time and space, because their origin, it is surprising that they later downexpression on bones is considered to be the play the importance of developmental and
outcome of genetic similarity or divergence. external factors to trait expression.
The books main goals are to provide stanAlthough not the first to test the anthropological value of traits for population studies, dards for trait identification, expression,
the 1967 study by Berry and Berry (1967)is and development,published evidence for ge-
netic control, and in some cases, explanation
of function. Such breadth is built from an
earlier preparatory conference which brought
together scholars trained in different schools
to classify a single array of skulls and
thereby assess interobserver concordance.
Consequently, there are 13 other scholars
identified on the book jacket as having contributed to the amassing of this substantial
bod ofdata.
Tie text begins with a short section on the
general biology of epigenetic characters
including anatomy, embryology, genetic
models, develo mental int luences, medical
relevance, a n t adaptiveness. The traits
themselves are arbitrarily divided into five
categories on the basis of anatomicallocation
or skeletal structure, such as tubercles, depressions, or foramina. Next, each trait is
surve ed under the following headings: nomenc ature, oss anatomy, function, emb ology and evelopment,genetics, medical
re evance, methodologyof description, withinpopulation variation, and variation among
PO ulations where such information is availab e. Trait descriptions usually include photographic plates or line drawings demonstrating the variability of trait expression.
The quality of these illustrations is often
excellent and the glossy paper and good
binding make the book an impressive presentation. Of particular note are the five
plates at the beginning of the text, displaying standard anatomical views of the skull
with vellum overlays showing the locations
of all traits. A com rehensive survey of the
literature include(Q in the descriptive sections and ir, the quantitative data for the
tables is an admirable and useful compendium. North American readers should appreciate the European bias of the bibliograph ,which cites a number of less well known
re erences.
It is clear that considerableeffort has gone
into the production of the volume and this
should be recognized and commended. However, I have some difficulties with the theoretical treatment of trait biology, particularly the discussion of variation within
populations. It is perhaps surprising how
very differently a body of literature can be
interpreted by different researchers. In the
case of this book, the authors consider the
relative influences of inter and intra-individual components of variation on trait inci-
i r
dence and expression and judge most of them
to be negative or inconsistent. For example,
they say that if there is biological meanmgfulness to traits that one would expect each
to show arallel trends in both sexes, male
and fema e. However, this statement contradicts the threshold model which says that
size differences in trait liability can be manifested through sexual dimorphism. Consequently, there is am le evidence that many
hyperostotic traits s ow higher frequencies
in males and hypostotic traits show hi her
frequencies in females. Usually, most o the
incoiisisteii&s in evaluating sex, age. side,
and locational effects on traits sim ly illustrate methodological problems wit3! sample
sizes, statistical methods, and trait definitions. In addition, there is no discussion of
the ossible sources of trait asymmetry such
as uctuating asymmetry, whose developmental basis has been well studied, or directional asymmetry, whose influence has
rarely been recognized.
There also are editing problems, including
fairly numerous typographical errors, and
there are questions of organization, such as
why the mandibular torus is included with
traits from the cranial base and not with the
mandible, or why only the atlas vertebra is
included in a book that maintains a “cranial
fixation.” At a cost of almost $80 U.S. the
book is obviously not recommended for all
ersonal libraries, though I think it should
gecome a standard source in institutions.
The trend in recent literature has been to
favor external or activity-mediated causes
for skeletal trait formation but such a position forgets the old n a t u r e - n ~ i r ~ ~
ment. Geneticinfluences and environmentai
stimuli have the same causal status in skeletal develo ment. The are evocators rather
than comp ete causes. he value of this book
is its treatment of traits individually and its
careful examination of trait embryology as
well as its attempt to develop careful trait
Department of Anthropology
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario
Berry AC, and Berry R J (1967) Epigenetic variation in
the human cranium J Anat 101 361-379
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figuren, skull, hauser, stefan, index, human, verlagsbuchhandlung, epigenetic, 301, stuttgart, variant, 1989, tablet, schweizerbart, schet
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