Journal of Anatomy (2005)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2005.00381.x


Sexual differences in growth, allometric growth patterns and skeletal proportions were investigated by linear measurements of skeletal parts on 225 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) from the inner Danish and adjacent waters. Females show larger asymptotic sizes and extended period of growth compared with males. Measurements of the skull and flipper bones show negative allometry, whereas those of the bones of the body generally show positive allometry. There are no statistically significant intersexual differences in allometry except for the pelvic bones, where the males show stronger positive allometry. Throughout the range of individual sizes, females have significantly larger skulls and shorter vertebral columns than males for similarly sized individuals. In fully grown specimens, the condylobasal length of females makes up a smaller proportion of total length, and the vertebrae make up a larger proportion as compared with males. As these characters show negative and positive allometry, respectively, it is suggested that males finish their development at an earlier stage than females, retaining more paedomorphic proportions of the skeleton. Paedomorphosis in fully grown males relative to females is also found in the vertebral epiphyses that mature later in males than females, although the males finish growth at a younger age.