P Houghton's research while affiliated with University of Otago and other places

Publications (5)

Article
The large range of human morphological variation found in the Pacific is usually ascribed to settlement out of southeast Asia by several “waves” of people of differing physical form. However, a body heat balance analysis suggests that much of the observed variation in body form is a consequence of varying environments within the Pacific. Inland peo...
Article
Widely dispersed throughout the Pacific, Polynesians are a biologically distinctive people in form and size of both body and head. Large-bodied and well-muscled, their body phenotype is suited to life in a thermolabile oceanic environment. Their craniofacial skeleton is large and robust, with mandibular size and form (the "rocker" mandible) being e...
Article
The Polynesian people who settled a wide area of the tropical Pacific have a large and muscular body phenotype that appears to contradict the classical biological rules of Bergmann and Allen. However, a scrutiny of the conditions actually experienced by these canoe voyagers and small-island dwellers suggests that in reality the oceanic environment...
Article
As an anatomical region the head combines great diversity of function with close integration of structure. Consequently no structural component has autonomy of form. There is a sequence of maturation of functions and their related structural components, and in this sequence the nervous system and its supportive structures mature first. The nasal ai...
Article
We consider the cranial base to be the primordial determinant of the head form and mandibular shape so common amongst (but not exclusive to) adult Polynesians. The flatness of the cranial base manifests its full influence only when growth of the upper facial skeleton is complete in early adulthood. We argue that during growth and maturation the upp...

Citations

... In essence, in these situations we are interested in what has been termed "basal body mass" in contemporary populations ( Hruschka, Hadley, & Brewis, 2014), i.e., body mass in early adulthood before later accumulation of excess body fat due to ageing and lifestyle factors, or short term health variability. Such fluctuations in body mass are largely driven by changes in fat mass, which is especially plastic and sensitive to short term fluctuations in individual diet and health ( Wells 2010), while lean mass appears to be less plastic and potentially subject to unique selective pressures ( Hardikar et al. 2015;Houghton 1991 ( Buckberry 2015;Falys, Schutkowski, & Weston, 2006;Jackes 2000; Mays 2015) and age-related aggregation of excess mass likely varies among populations, controlling for factors such as age-related changes in body mass currently has limited potential. However, the fact that various studies indicate that skeletal dimensions best reflect body mass, and more precisely lean mass, in early adulthood drastically reduces the introduction of such noise into the data on early adult body size. ...
... There have been several examples of gene-culture interactions such as the cultivators in West Africa whose agriculture, which consisted of malariacarrying mosquitos, showed preference for the hemoglobin S (HbS) "sickle-cell" allele to provide protection from malaria (Livingstone, 1958). Similarly, Polynesians being exposed to cold stress and starvation during their long open-ocean voyages may have resulted in positive selection for thrifty metabolism leading to type 2 diabetes susceptibility in present day Polynesians (Houghton, 1990). This gene-culture evolution emphasizes that one's lifestyle and environment have lasting impact and could be responsible for the differences seen in gene-environment interactions. ...
... The 'rocker jaw' condition refers to the mandible's propensity to rock back and forth like an old rocking chair when placed on a level surface, a condition that arises as a result of a unique facial growth pattern observed in Polynesians that produces a relatively wide angle between the body and ramus of the mandible (Houghton, 1977;Schendel et al., 1980;Kean and Houghton, 1990). This condition, while common in Polynesians and Pacific Islanders, is rarely observed in Europeans. ...
... The potential accommodative capacity of the maxillary sinuses is particularly important with regard to variation in nasal morphology given that the relative independence of the nasal cavity may vary across different regions of the nose. For example, although there are potentially important population-specific differences in superior nasal breadth related to respiratory function and air-conditioning capacity of the nasal cavity (e.g., Franciscus, 2003), variation in the breadth of the superior nasal region may be constrained by neural structures and visual organs (Kean and Houghton, 1987). In contrast, air-filled spaces in place of bone and vital organs (i.e., the maxillary sinuses) are unlikely to impose the same constraints on other aspects of nasal morphology. ...
... The cranial base grows from endochondral ossification and experiences the majority of its growth in size prior to adolescence. In contrast to size, the flexure of the cranial base does not change after adolescence (Kean & Houghton, 1982;Šešelj, Duren, & Sherwood, 2015). As such, the cranial base provides a foundation for cranial dimensions with later occurring developmental pathways. ...