Human Growth pp 153-166 | Cite as

Evolution of the Human Growth Curve

  • Elizabeth S. Watts


After many years of languishing in disrepute, the relationship of ontogeny to phylogeny is once again becoming a legitimate, if not a popular, field of study (Gould, 1977). Ontogeny represents one of the last frontiers of evolutionary anthropology, lying as it does at the interface of genetics, anatomy, and ecology. Fossil specimens of immature individuals can provide information about the evolution of skeletal size, proportions, and developmental stages. But comparative study of living animals is essential for understanding the dynamics of the growth process itself, including its relationship to genetical and physiological underpinnings and the ecological context in which it unfolds. Relatively little is known about the growth and development of primates other than humans. Nevertheless, it now appears that the basic patterns of human growth are shared to a large degree with nonhuman primates. And, at least among the catarrhines, the shape of the growth curve is similar, right down to the finer details (Watts and Gavan, 1982). Therefore, attempts to explain the evolutionary origins and significance of the human growth process cannot proceed without knowledge of the growth of other primates.


Rhesus Monkey Sexual Dimorphism Nonhuman Primate Human Growth Growth Spurt 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altmann, J., Altmann, S. A., Hausfater, G., and Mc- Cuskey, S. A., 1977, Life history of yellow baboons. Physical development, reproductive parameters, and infant mortality, Primates 18: 315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ausman, L. M., Hayes, K. C., Lage, A., and Hegsted, D. ML, 1970, Nursery care and growth of Old and New World infant monkeys. Lab. Anim. Care 20: 907.Google Scholar
  3. Bayley, N., and Pinneau, S. R., 1952, Tables for predicting adult height from skeletal age: Revised for use with the Greulich-Pyle hand standards, J. Pediatr. 490: 423.Google Scholar
  4. Boas, F., 1892, The growth of children. II, Science i9:281. Brody, S., 1945, Bioenergetics and Growth, Reinhold, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Case, T. J., 1978, On the evolution and adaptive significance of postnatal growth rates in terrestrial vertebrates, Q. Rev. Biol. 53: 243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chance, R. A., and Mead, A. P., 1953, Social behavior and primate evolution, Symp. Soc. Exp. Biol. 7: 395.Google Scholar
  7. Cheverud, J. M., 1981, Epiphyseal union and dental eruption in Macaca mulatta, Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. 56: 157.Google Scholar
  8. Cole, L. C., 1954, The population consequences of life history phenomena, A. Rev. Biol. 29: 103.Google Scholar
  9. Copeland, K. C., Kuehl, T. J., and Castracane, V. D., 1982, Pubertal endocrinology of the baboon: Elevated somatomedin-c/inulin-like growth factor I at puberty, J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 55: 1198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunbar, R. I. M., 1980, Demographic and life history variables in a population of gelada baboons (Theropihecus gelada), J. Anim. Ecol. 49: 485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eisenberg, J. F., 1981, The Mammalian Radiations, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  12. Ellison, P. T., 1982, Skeletal growth, fatness and menarcheal age: A comparison of two hypotheses, Hum. Biol. 54: 269.Google Scholar
  13. Frisancho, A. R., Garn, S. M., and Rothman, C. G., 1969, Age at menarche: A new method of prediction and retropsective assessment on hand x-rays, Hum, Biol. 41: 42.Google Scholar
  14. Gavan, J. A., 1953, Growth and development of the chimpanzee: A longitudinal and comparative study, Hum. Biol. 25: 93.Google Scholar
  15. Gavan, J. A., 1971, Longitudinal postnatal growth in chimpanzee, in: The Chimpanzee, Vol. 4 ( G. H. Bourne, ed.), pp. 46–102, University Park Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  16. Gavan, J. A., 1982, Adolescent growth in nonhuman primates: An introduction, Hum. Biol. 54: 1.Google Scholar
  17. Gavan, J. A., and Swindler, D. R., 1966, Growth rates and phylogeny in primates, Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. 24: 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Glaser, D., 1970, Uber die Ossifikation der Extremitäten bei Neugebornen primaten (Mammalia), Z. Morph. Tiere 68: 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gould, S. J., 1977, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Harvard University-Belknap Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  20. Grether, W. F., and Yerkes, R. M., 1940, Weight norms and relations for the chimpanzee, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 27: 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haigh, M. V., and Scott, A., 1965, Some radiological and other factors for assessing age in the rhesus monkey using animals of known age, Lab. Anim. Care 15: 57.Google Scholar
  22. Hobson, W. C., Winter, J. S. D., Reyes, F. I., Fuller, G. B., and Faiman, C., 1980, Nonhuman primates as models for studies on puberty, in: Animal Models in Human Reproduction ( M. Serio and L. Martini, eds.), pp. 409–421, Raven Press, New York.Google Scholar
  23. King, J. E., Fobes, J. T., and Fobes, J. L., 1974, Development of early behaviours in neonatal squirrel monkeys and cottontop tamarins, Dev. Psychobiol. 7: 97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Laird, A. K., 1967, Evolution of the human growth curve, Growth, 31: 345.Google Scholar
  25. Largo, R. H., Gasser, T., Prader, A., Stuetzle, W., and Huber, P. J., 1978, Analysis of the adolescent growth spurt using smoothing spline functions, Ann. Hum. Biol. 5: 421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lestrel, P. E., and Sirianni, J. E., 1982, The cranial base in Macaca nemestrina: Shape changes during adolescence, Hum. Biol. 54: 7.Google Scholar
  27. McArthur, R. H., and Wilson, E. O., 1967, The Theory of Island Biogeography, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  28. Malina, R. M., 1978, Adolescent growth and maturation: Selected aspects of current research, Yearb. Phys. Anthropol. 21: 63.Google Scholar
  29. Marshall, W. A., 1974, Interrelationships of skeletal maturation, sexual development and somatic growth in man, Ann. Hum. Biol. 1: 29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marshall, W. A., and de Limongi, Y., 1976, Skeletal maturity and the prediction of age at menarche, Ann. Hum. Biol. 3: 235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Martin, R. D., 1975a, The bearing of reproductive behaviour and ontogeny on strepsirhine phylogeny, in: Phylogeny of The Primates ( W. P. Luckett and F. S. Szalay, eds.), pp. 265–297, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Martin, R. D., 1975 Strategies of reproduction, Nat. Hist. 84: 48.Google Scholar
  33. Martin, R. D., 1981, Field studies of primate behaviour, Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond. 46: 287.Google Scholar
  34. Newell-Morris, L., and Tarrant, L. H., 1978, Ossification166 in the hand and foot of the macaque (Macaca nemestrina). I. General features, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol 48: 441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Orlosky, F. J., 1982, Adolescent midfacial growth in Macaca nemestrina and Papio cynocephalus, Hum. Biol. 54: 23.Google Scholar
  36. Oxnard, C. E., 1983, Sexual dimorphism in the overall proportions of primates, Am. J. Primatol. 4: 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Portmann, A., 1965, Uber die Evolution der Tragzeit bei Säugetieren, Rev. Suisse Zool. 72: 658.Google Scholar
  38. Pusey, A. E., 1978, The physical and social development of wild adolescent chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurhii), Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  39. Roche, A. E., Wainer, H., and Thissen, D., 1975, Predicting Adult Stature for Individuals, S. Karger, Basel.Google Scholar
  40. Rowell, T. E., 1977, Variation in age at puberty in monkeys, Folia Primatol. 27: 284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sacher, G. A., 1975, Maturation and longevity in relation to cranial capacity in hominid evolution, in: Primate Functional Morphology and Evolution ( R. Tuttle, ed.), pp. 417–441, Aldine, Chicago.Google Scholar
  42. Sacher, G. A., 1982, The role of brain maturation in the evolution of primates, in: Primate Brain Evolution ( E. Armstrong and D. Falk, eds.), pp. 97–112, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  43. Sacher, G. A., and Staffeldt, E. F., 1974, The relation of gestation time to brain weight for placental mammals: Implications for the theory of vertebrate growth, Am. Nat. 108: 593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schultz, A. H., 1937, Proportions, variability and asym-metries of the long bones of the limbs and the clavicles in man and apes, Hum. Biol. 9: 281.Google Scholar
  45. Schultz, A. H., 1956, Postembryonic age changes, Primatologia 1: 887.Google Scholar
  46. Shea, B. T., 1983, Allometry and heterochrony in the African apes, Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. 62: 275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sigg, H., Stalba, A., Abegglen, J.-J., and Dasser, V., 1982, Life history of hamadryas baboons: Physical development, infant mortality, reproductive parameters and family relationships, Primates 23: 473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sirianni, J. E., and van Ness, A. L., 1978, Postnatal growth of the cranial base in (Macaca nemestrina), Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 49: 329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sirianni, J. E., van Ness, A. L., and Swindler, D. R., 1982, Growth of the mandible in adolescent pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina), Hum. Biol 54: 31.Google Scholar
  50. Spence, K. W., and Yerkes, R. M., 1937, Weight, growth and age in chimpanzee, Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 22: 229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Spuhler, J. N., 1959, Somatic paths to culture, Hum. Biol. 31: 1.Google Scholar
  52. Tanner, J. M., 1951, Some notes on the reporting of growth data, Hum. Biol 23: 93.Google Scholar
  53. Tanner, J. M., 1955, Growth at Adolescence, 1st ed., Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.Google Scholar
  54. Tanner, J. M., 1962, Growth at Adolescence, 2nd ed., Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford.Google Scholar
  55. Tanner, J. M., and Whitehouse, R. W., 1959, Standards for Skeletal Maturity, Part I, International Children’s Centre, Paris.Google Scholar
  56. Tanner, J. M., Whitehouse, R. H., Marshall, W. A., Healey, M. J. R., and Goldstein, H., 1975, Assessment of Skeletal Maturity and Prediction of Adult Height (TW 2 Method), 1st ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  57. Tanner, J. M., Whitehouse, R. H., Marubini, E., and Resele, L. F., 1976, The adolescent growth spurt of boys and girls of the Harpenden growth study, Ann. Hum. Biol 3: 109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tanner, J. M., Whitehouse, R. H., Cameron, N., Marshall, W. A., Healey, M. J. R., and Goldstein, H., 1983, Assessment of Skeletal Maturity and Prediction of Adult Height (TW 2 Method), 2nd ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  59. van der Werff ten Bosch, J. J., Dierschke, D. J., Terascuva, E., and Slob, A. K., 1983, Anterior hypothalamic lesions and pubertal development in female rhesus monkeys, Behav. Brain Res. 7: 321.Google Scholar
  60. van Wagenen, G., and Catchpole, H. R., 1956, Physical growth of the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), Am. J. Phys. Anthropol 19: 245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Watts, E. S., 1971, A comparative study of skeletal maturation in the chimpanzee and rhesus monkey and its relationship to growth and sexual maturity, Ph. D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  62. Watts. E. S., 1975, The assessment of skeletal development in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) and its relationship to growth and sexual maturity, in: The Rhesus Monkey, Vol. 2 (G. H. Bourne, ed.), pp. 245- 260, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  63. Watts, E. S., 1985 Skeletal development, in: Comparative Primate Biology, Vol. 3: Reproduction and Develop-ment ( W. R. Dukelow, ed.), pp. 1 - 25, Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  64. Watts, E. S., and Gavan, J. A., 1982, Postnatal growth of nonhuman primates: The problem of the adolescent spurt, Hum. Biol 54: 53.Google Scholar
  65. Western, D., 1979, Size, life history and ecology in mammals, Afr. J. Ecol. 17: 185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Western, D., and Ssemakula, J., 1982, Life history patterns in birds and mammals and their evolutionary interpretation, Oecologia 54: 281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilen, R., and Naftolin, F., 1976, Age, weight and weight gain in the individual pubertal female rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), Biol Reprod. 15: 356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wilen, R., and Naftolin, F., 1978, Pubertal age, weight and weight gain in the individual female New World monkey (Cebus albifrons), Primates 19: 769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wilen, R., Goy, R. W., Resco, J. A., and Naftolin, F., 1977, Pubertal body weight and growth in the female rhesus pseudohermaphrodite, Biol Reprod. 16: 470.Google Scholar
  70. Williams, R. F., and Hodgen, G. D., 1982, The reproduc-tive cycle in female macaques, Am. J. Primatol (Suppl.) 1: 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Young, J. Z., 1973, The pineal gland, Philosophy 48: 70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth S. Watts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

Personalised recommendations