The substantial involvement of genetic factors in the determination of head-size and head-shape traits has been firmly established. However, there has been a lack of agreement on a number of specific issues concerning the pattern of inheritance of craniofacial features. In this study we examined some of these issues in a large, ethnically homogeneous sample of Indian pedigrees. The data included 1,263 individuals belonging to 373 nuclear families. Eleven raw head-size traits and two synthetic phenotypes, interpreted as horizontal and vertical head-size components (HOC and VEC, respectively), were used in the analysis. To establish the pattern of inheritance of head traits, we carried out univariate and bivariate analyses. Maximum heritability estimates ranged from 0.41 to 0.83 for the studied head-size phenotypes. The portion of the total residual variance attributable to putative additive genetic factors was 68.3% and 70.3% for HOC and VEC, respectively, and common familial factor effects were found to be nonsignificant. The extent of genetic influences did not differ significantly with respect to sex or between HOC and VEC. The results of bivariate variance decomposition analysis strongly suggest the existence of common genetic factors simultaneously affecting HOC and VEC; 41.8% of the two traits' total residual variance was attributable to the effect of these common genetic factors.
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Vol. 79 • No. 5