Volume 121 (2013) Issue 1 Pages 1-11
The variation of orbit shape has been investigated, especially its role in population classification. However, previous studies that treated orbit shape as a linear metric or non-metric trait have not produced conclusive quantitative data to show whether orbit shape is an accurate reflection of population affinity. Thus, in this study in order to examine regional variation in the orbit shape of contemporary Asian, African, and European populations we use geometric morphometrics with a novel standardization technique. A standardized orbital plane was obtained and each specimen was photographed. The results from this study show that regional variation in orbit shape exists. The Asian orbital contour was generally tall, rounded, and its inferior contour was symmetrical. The European tended to be square and more inclined, with the African being shorter. Moreover, the orbit shape of some specimens from these three regions overlapped. The similarities between the Asian and European samples were much smaller than those between Africans and Asians, or Africans and Europeans. Additionally, intergroup variability was larger on the bones of the maxilla and zygoma which form the inferior contour of the orbit, compared with the frontal bone forming the superior contour. The most variable areas of the orbit concentrate on the internal aspect of the upper margin, on the contours near the frontomalare orbitale and zygomaxillare. The application of geometric morphometrics with the newly developed standardization protocol to examine orbit shape between individuals from different geographic areas, has demonstrated its use to measure quantitatively human orbit shape, variation, and population affinity.