Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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One of four cartilaginous areas between the cranial bones of a fetus or infant; the fontanels allow some movement of the cranial bones, making the skull compressible and assisting with the passage through the birth canal. All fontanels fuse within 24 months (except in pathologic conditions) and it is during this period that the infant cranium is malleable, which may permit cranial deformation. Fontanel size and rate of closure can be used to estimate skeletal age. Also spelled fontanelle.

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