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A Geometric Morphometric Assessment of Hand Shape and Comparison to the 2D:4D Digit Ratio as a Marker of Sexual Dimorphism

  • Paul G. Sanfilippo (a1), Alex W. Hewitt (a1), Jenny A. Mountain (a2) and David A. Mackey (a3)

Twin studies are extremely useful for investigating hypotheses of genetic influence on a range of behavioral and physical traits in humans. Studies of physical traits, however, are usually limited to size-related biological characteristics because it is inherently difficult to quantify the morphological counterpart – shape. In recent years, the development of geometry-preserving analytical techniques built upon multivariate statistical methodologies has produced a new discipline in biological shape analysis known as geometric morphometrics. In this study of hand shape analysis, we introduce the reader already familiar with the field of twin research to the potential utility of geometric morphometrics and demonstrate the cross-discipline applicability of methods. We also investigate and compare the efficacy of the 2D:4D ratio, a commonly used marker of sexual dimorphism, to the fully multivariate approach of shape analysis in discriminating between male and female sex. Studies of biological shape variation utilizing geometric morphometric techniques may be completed with software freely available on the Internet and time invested to master the small learning curve in concepts and theory.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Professor David A. Mackey, Lions Eye Institute, Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Western Australia, 2 Verdun St Nedlands WA 6009, Australia. E-mail:
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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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