Fluctuating asymmetry and morphometric variation of hand bones

Gregory Livshits*, Konstantin Yakovenko, Lilia Kletselman, David Karasik, Eugene Kobyliansky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The major aim of this study was to test three hypotheses: 1) more complex traits of the hand are less prone to developmental insults and therefore show lower fluctuating asymmetry (FA) as compared with simple traits; 2) the manifestation of FA correlates with the variability of the trait (i.e., CV); and 3) FA is an organ-wide property, and therefore a concordance exists between the FA measures of different traits in hand bones. Seventy-two bilateral measurements of hand bones, were made from plain-film radiographs of 365 cadavers. A complex trait was considered as the total length of the three phalanges of a finger and their contiguous metacarpals. Simple traits were considered to be the lengths of individual bone that made up the complex trait. The following results were obtained: 1) on the average simple traits, composing the complex trait, show much higher FA than the corresponding complex trait, but this result is expected if there is no correlation (or low correlation) between FA of simple traits within the complex trait, due to random direction of right-left differences; 2) strong and highly significant correlation was observed between FA and CV of studied traits, regardless of sex and age of individuals; and 3) the majority of FA measurements of hand bones showed no correlation. However, correlations between some sets of FA traits were highly significant. They were interpreted, although not specifically tested, as the result of a tight relationship between traits related not only developmentally but also by active performance of the same function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Complex traits
  • Developmental instability
  • Hand bones
  • Simple traits


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