Re: The Anthroplogy of the New World

Gerold Firl (
6 Dec 1994 12:10:13 -0800

In article <3bt0iu$> (whittet) writes:

>I am curious as to whether there is any evidence that man has existed
>long enough in the new world to evolve any adaptations.

What are the latest estimates for how long we have been here? Every now and
then I see claims that man arrived long before the end of the last glacial
period (~12,000 years ago); what kind of evidence supports such a claim?

>I would include in this grouping the range of peoples
>from the Clovis and Folsom, Dorset,Inuit and Thule hunters,
>to the Tolmec, Olmec, Myan and Aztec agriculturalists,of
>Mezo America, the South American Maritime cultures
>and the archaic indians of the Northeast.

The inuit show clear signs of cold-climate adaptations. The obvious
indications are their short limbs, but I would expect some metabolic
changes as a result of their unusual diet, as well. But they didn't arrive
with the bering migration(s) (there has been more than one, judging by the
linguistic evidence), but rather have spread throughout the circumpolar
region using the waterways. The inuit have had longer than 12,000 years to
adapt to the cold.

>It would seem at first glance that there are a number of
>possible differences, related to things like diet, climate,
>lifestyle, and behavior in general as well as genetics.

Right. I would suggest the yahgan (coastal dwellers in tierra del fuego,
now extinct), inhabitants of amazonia such as the yanomamo or jivaro, and
north american plains indians such as the sioux as examples showing
typical adaptations. The yahgan were very stocky, able to
withstand amazing extremes of cold; similar to the eskimo, only to a
greater degree, since they had virtually no technology to assist them. The
amazonian indians are analogs of the old world forest pygmies; what is the
average size of the jivaro, maybe 5' 2" tall, and 135 lb? Typical jungle
adaptation. And the plains indians were tall and long-limbed; similar to
the nilo-sudanese physique of africa.

So yes, I would say that the human residence time in the americas has been
sufficient to produce biological adaptations.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf