Dental size traits within families: Path analysis for first molar and lateral incisor

Rosario H.Yap Potter, John P. Rice, Albert A. Dahlberg, Thelma Dahlberg

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27 Scopus citations


Previous works on the inheritance of dental traits have traditionally followed Fisher's model for family data under the assumption that phenotypic similarity between relatives is due solely to genetic factors. This study uses recent causal models that incorporate the contribution of nonrandom environmental sources of variation to familial resemblance on dental size. Path analysis was applied to observed interclass and intraclass correlations of sex‐specific parent‐offspring and sib pairs in 293 Pima Indian families from the southwest United States. The mesiodistal dimension of an early‐forming and stable tooth (first molar) was contrasted with a late‐forming and variable tooth (upper lateral incisor) for genetic and familial environmental components of variation. Parameters were estimated according to the XTAU models of Rice et al. (1980) and linear constraints placed upon the parameters were tested. The proportion of variance accounted for by genetic and environmental transmissible factors is estimated to be 52% for the first molar and 35% for the lateral incisor. Neither X‐linkage nor sex‐specific environmental effects are required to explain the transmission of dental size. Nontransmissible environmental effects that account for sibling correlations are detectable. Furthermore, sex differences are found in correlated sibling environments for the lateral incisor but not the first molar, to explain in part male‐female differences in the distributions of the upper lateral incisor size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1983


  • Cultural inheritance
  • Family correlations
  • Path analysis
  • Sex difference
  • Tooth size


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