The relationship between prenatal and postnatal ontogenetic allometry is poorly known, and empirical studies documenting prenatal allometry are few, precluding an understanding of changes in growth patterns during life history and their relation to proximal, physiological, and ultimate evolutionary variables. In this study I compare prenatal and postnatal ontogenetic allometry of the cranium in a cleared and stained developmental series of the African striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). Eighteen cranial measurements, reflecting the dimensions of individual elements, were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate estimates of allometry and methods of matrix comparison. Prenatal allometry is characterized in R. pumilio by a relative rapid lengthening of cranial elements, particularly the frontal, parietal, basisphenoid, premaxilla, and palatine, as evidenced by larger bivariate allometric coefficients (>30% increase) and, across all variables measured, a greater proportion of cranial elements growing with a positive allometry than in the postnatal period. Growth dynamics are found to shift for measurements of several elements including the parietal, frontal, and palatine, indicating a nonlinearity of ontogenetic allometry with respect to birth; similar shifts have been found between prenatal and postnatal growth for some regions of the human cranium. Application of common principal component analyses, a generalized extension of principal component analysis, revealed that the prenatal and postnatal matrices shared a highly similar structure, further quantified by high correlations (>0.78) using the random skewers method of matrix comparison. These results indicate a close correspondence between morphology-based variance structures over the course of ontogeny in R. pumilio.
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Vol. 92 • No. 2