Moscow University

Variation in the morphological traits under the influence of the urban environment in men and women

Zimina S.N., Goncharova N.N., Negasheva M.A.

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Biology, Department of Anthropology, 119234, Leninskie Mount Street, 1, p. 12, Moscow, Russia

Zimina Sofya N., Researcher, Goncharova Natalia N., PhD.; ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8504-1175; Negasheva Marina A., PhD., D.Sc., ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7572-4316; e-mail:


Modern studies show that significant changes occur in morphological characteristics under the influence of the urban environment. According to the theory of greater sensitivity of males to external influences, living in a city can lead to significant changes in the structure of sexual dimorphism. The material for this study was obtained during an anthropometric survey of the urban and rural population of the USSR, collected in 1966-1967 – 1410 men and 1412 women, homogeneous in ethnic, social and demographic composition. Anthropometric data of the modern young population of Mordovia – 204 men and 210 women aged 16 to 18, collected in 2015 were also used. The coefficient of sexual dimorphism was used as an indicator of the degree of sexual dimorphism. The results of the study showed that the urban population significantly differs from the rural population, and is characterized by the macrosomization of their physique. Additionally, adaptation to the urban environment can occur even within a single generation. In particular, the length and weight of the body, transverse diameters, body and limb segments circumferences, and skinfolds thickness increase, which corresponds to the results of modern research. The influence of the urban environment on the indicators of fat deposition in the modern young population of Mordovia was also studied. Discussion. Under the influence of various complexes of external factors related to the urban environment, both men and women can be more eco-sensitive. In accordance with this, the direction of change in sexual dimorphism also varies – at the 1960s sexual dimorphism in the cities decreased for traits characterizing male physique, but the expressiveness of the female traits increased. For a modern population, the change in sexual dimorphism reflects an increase in the distance between the sexes in the city for all traits, except for parameters of the physique that form a more pronounced male body type. Unlike data on the current rural population of the United States and European countries, we observed a decrease in the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer in rural areas of Mordovia. At the same time, using the example of the modern youth of the Mordovia Republic, we confirmed the theory that, under the influence of stressful urban conditions, sex differences in fat deposition patterns were reduced due to greater eco-sensitivity of males in the population.


physical anthropology; sexual dimorphism; urban/rural differences; Mordovia Republic; skinfold thickness

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2019.2.015-025

Цит.: Zimina S.N., Goncharova N.N., Negasheva M.A. Variation in the morphological traits under the influence of the urban environment in men and women // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2019; 2/2019; с. 15-25

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