Baboon Craniofacial Genetics

X-rays of Male and Female Baboons X-rays of Female and Male Baboons

In addition to our project examining the genetic architecture of the human craniofacial complex, we are also conducting a parallel study in a non-human primate, the baboon.  This study makes use of the pedigreed population of baboons at the Southwest National Primate Research Center, San Antonio, Texas.  For this project, we have collected cranial metrics from over 850 baboons.  Results from this work has recently appeared in the journal Genetics (Sherwood et al., 2008).  In short, we were successful in demonstrating a significant genetic influence on all traits and in identifying a number of significant quantitative trait loci (QTL).

We are currently seeking funding for the follow-up project to this work.  The central hypothesis of this project is that there are pleiotropic networks of coordinately-regulated genes that influence normal and pathological craniofacial variation. We will seek to identify these networks  to arrive at an improved understanding of which genes work together - and by what means - to produce variation in the craniofacial complex as a whole, as well as in its major developmental components – i.e., the basicranium, splanchnocranium, and neurocranium. As a general approach, we will combine data on traditional craniometric traits and whole genome transcriptional profiles from pedigreed baboons and we will subject these data to statistical genetic, genomic, and bioinformatic analyses to identify networks, both canonical and novel, that influence craniofacial variation.



Sherwood RJ. 2005. Genetic epidemiology of complex traits in the baboon cranium. AAAG symposium "Anthropological and Primate Genetics" Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research.

Sherwood, RJ, in press. Variation, genetics, and evolution of the primate craniofacial complex. In Genome Mapping and Genomics in Human and Non-Human Primates. (R. Duggirala, A.G. Comuzzie, S. Williams-Blangero, C. Kole, eds.) Springer.

Sherwood RJ, and Duren DL. 2008. Genetics of the Craniofacial Complex. In: Enlow DH, Hans MG, editors. Essentials of Facial Growth. Ann Arbor: Needham Press, Inc. p. p 402-412.

Sherwood RJ, and Duren DL. 2009. The genetics of morphology. Am J Phys Anthropol. 138(Suppl.48):369.

Sherwood RJ, Duren DL, Blangero J, Mahaney MC, and Towne B. 2006a. Face value: Comparative quantitative genetics of the human (Homo sapiens) and baboon (Papio hamadryas) craniofacial complex. Paleoanthropol PAS 2006 Abstracts:A01.

Sherwood RJ, Duren DL, Havill LM, Rogers J, Cox LA, Towne B, and Mahaney MC. 2008a. A Genomewide Linkage Scan for Quantitative Trait Loci Influencing the Craniofacial Complex in Baboons (Papio hamadryas spp.). Genetics 180:619-628. 

Sherwood RJ, Duren DL, Mahaney MC, Havill LM, and Towne B. 2006b. Integration and modularity in the baboon craniofacial complex. Available from

Sherwood RJ, Duren DL, Mahaney MC, and Towne B. 2006c. Quantitative genetics of modern baboon (Papio hamadryas) craniofacial variation. Am J Phys Anthropol Suppl. 42:164-165.

Sherwood, R.J., M.C. Mahaney, D.L. Duren, L. M. Havill, L.A. Cox, J. Rogers, J. Blangero, T. Dyer, S.A. Cole, S.A. Czerwinski, R.M. Siervogel, B. Towne. 2009 Comparative genomics of the primate craniofacial complex Available from

Sherwood RJ, Mahaney MC, Duren DL, Havill LM, Cox LA, Rogers J, and Towne B. 2008b. Variation, genetics, and evolution of the primate craniofacial complex. Am J Phys Anthropol Suppl. 43:192.

Sherwood, RJ, Mahaney, MC, Duren, DL, Havill, LM, Cox, LA, Rogers, J, Blangero, J, Dyer, T, Cole, SA, Czerwinski, SA, Siervogel, RM, Towne, B. 2009. Comparative genomics of the primate craniofacial complex (Presented at the annual meetings of the Society of Craniofacial Genetics, Oct. 20, 2009, Honolulu, HI). Available from

Sherwood, R.J., K.P. McNulty, D.L. Duren, M.C. Mahaney, S. Williams-Blangero, R.M. Siervogel, B. Towne. Dissecting the genetic architecture of craniofacial shape. (Invited paper: Presented at the First International Conference on Biological Shape Analysis. June 3-6, 2009, Tsukuba, Japan).