Document Type



Fluctuating asymmetry, small deviations from perfect bilateral symmetry, is negatively correlated with health and positively correlated with sexual selection in human adults, but the accumulation, persistence, and fitness implications of asymmetries during childhood are largely unknown. Here, we introduce the Jamaican Symmetry Project, a long-term study of fluctuating asymmetry and its physical and behavioral correlates in rural Jamaican children. The project is based on an initial sample of 285 children (156 boys and 129 girls), aged 5 to 11 years. We describe the design of the project and the methodology of measuring 10 paired morphometric traits. All traits except hand width showed fluctuating asymmetry. Fluctuating asymmetries of the legs tended to be related and were less than half as great as fluctuating asymmetries of the arms and ears. Therefore the legs may show high developmental stability resulting from selection for mechanical efficiency. A fluctuating asymmetry composite score revealed that boys have significantly lower fluctuating asymmetry than girls and that this effect resides mainly in the elbows. There were significant positive relationships between composite fluctuating asymmetry and age, height, and weight, but multiple regression analyses showed that age was negatively related to fluctuating asymmetry, whereas body size was positively correlated. These findings are compared with results from recent English studies.