Effects of fronto‐occipital artificial cranial vault modification on the cranial base and face

James M. Cheverud, Luci A.P. Kohn, Lyle W. Konigsberg, Steven R. Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Artificial reshaping of the cranial vault has been practiced by many human groups and provides a natural experiment in which the relationships of neurocranial, cranial base, and facial growth can be investigated. We test the hypothesis that fronto‐occipital artificial reshaping of the neurocranial vault results in specific changes in the cranial base and face. Fronto‐occipital reshaping results from the application of pads or a cradle board which constrains cranial vault growth, limiting growth between the frontal and occipital and allowing compensatory growth of the parietals in a mediolateral direction. Two skeletal series including both normal and artificially modified crania are analyzed, a prehistoric Peruvian Ancon sample (47 normal, 64 modified crania) and a Songish Indian sample from British Columbia (6 normal, 4 modified). Three‐dimensional coordinates of 53 landmarks were measured with a diagraph and used to form 9 finite elements as a prelude to finite element scaling analysis. Finite element scaling was used to compare average normal and modified crania and the results were evaluated for statistical significance using a bootstrap test. Fronto‐occipitally reshaped Ancon crania are significantly different from normal in the vault, cranial base, and face. The vault is compressed along an anterior‐superior to posterior‐inferior axis and expanded along a mediolateral axis in modified individuals. The cranial base is wider and shallower in the modified crania in the face is foreshortened and wider with the anterior orbital rim moving inferior and posterior towards the cranial base. The Songish crania display a different modification of the vault and face, indicating that important differences may exist in the morphological effects of fronto‐occipital reshaping from one group to another. © 1992 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-345
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Ancon
  • Artificial deformation
  • Cranial growth
  • Finite element scaling
  • Songish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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