Re: puzzle of the negrito: isolated archaic populations

Gerold Firl (
17 Dec 1996 20:55:04 GMT

In article <58s45k$>, (Philip Deitiker) writes:

(A lot of interesting stuff, but in a somewhat difficult, disjointed
format - I'll try to respond in a coherant manner.)

|> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

|> >Aren't the solomon islanders melanesian? Both melanesians and negrito
|> >have kinky hair, but it seems a bit premature to link them purely on
|> >that basis.

|> melanesia can be divided along two lines, the solomon island-like
|> folks and classical east asains. The solomon island/autralo aboriginal
|> peoples represent an anceint (diverged) subgroups of widely scattered
|> people with several characterisitics in common (when comparing them
|> with other eurasians).

Melanesia is the archepelago extending from new guinea to the fiji
islands, so named because it is inhabited by melanesians; they have
dark skin, kinky to frizzy hair, and slightly negroid features. I'm
not sure what you mean by "classical east asians"; the islands of
micronesia are inhabited by a mixture of melanesians, polynesians, and
malay-types, but when I think "classical east asian" I think of
chinese, who are very recent economic immigrants. Your
characterization of the solomon islanders, including the linkage
implied by the term "solomon island/australo aboriginal" confuses me;
can you explain?

|> 1. They migrated to the region somewhere about 55 - 40 KYA
|> 2. In this migration they split early and gene flow between isolate
|> populations has been small. Again not all populations have been tested
|> and these are presumptions for all populations, but I strongly suspect
|> that the other negrito populations are going to have similar
|> divergence characteristic. This spread of ancient asiatics presents
|> several problems and I will mention these.
|> First, there is some evidence that there has been hybridization
|> between recently arrived asians and these ancient dwellers, this has
|> produced, by eurasian standards, genetically new populations.

Here is an example of the value of racial terminology: who are the
"ancient dwellers" you refer to? If you mean the anatomically modern
immigrants of 40 KY, the term "ancient" seems misplaced. In this
discussion, they are relative newcomers.

|> mixing event, given the standing differences in ancient isolates is
|> going to have a completely different result. As a result if the
|> presented studies stand up, one is probably going to see 20 or 30
|> genetically seperable populations in the southeast asia/autralia/south
|> pacific region alone. This is why when you say 20 or 30 groups for the
|> world I kind of hold back, I suspect that africa and southeast asia
|> are regions where the current list can be expanded greatly and where
|> past definitions of what constitutes a group will be challenged.

Good point. A rigorous cladistic human family tree might well show
hundreds of races, many of which will be very small, and rapidly
shrinking as breeding isolation is ended and their territory is

|> Anyway you have to read the paper, the solomon islanders were
|> highlighted becasue there was a trait of blond hair in the population,
|> which is only seen in remote regions of africa and lead people to
|> believe that this group may have migrated recently from african.

I'm confused by this also - blond melanesians? blond africans? Which
remote african peoples have blond hair?

|> >Also, h. erectus first entered asia about a million years ago. There
|> >has been a whole lot of evolution going on since. This area of the
|> >world is one of the places which makes the out-of-africa/genocide
|> >hypothesis look very questionable.

|> Maybe, I think it's very doubtful, though, if your making the argument
|> that way over here there is a group which hasn't been throughly tested
|> and possibly of non-african origin. There has been no other instance
|> that supports this belief and there is no set of charactersitcs which
|> suggest these people have superafrican traits (i.e. traits above and
|> beyond those represented by the total of other of tested humanity)

The article on australian settlement in the _cambridge encyclopedia of
archaeology_ notes the extremely archaic physical features of many
australians, indicating continuity with the pre-h. sapiens population
of indonesia. Australian remains show a mixture of populations, with
an earlier group of late-model h. erectus/archaic h. sapiens
coexisting with anatomically modern h. sapiens who arrived within the
last 40 ky. There is direct evidence of hybridization: the current
residents are intermediate. They are neither as primitive nor as
modern as the bimodal fossil evidence.

|> >There is a
|> >|> synapsis on this in Science, about a year ago. The gene studies
|> >|> haven't been done for all, but I beleive three of the populations have
|> >|> been identified. Ironically, I think the data shows that these peoples
|> >|> are the most diverged from from current african populations, basically
|> >|> showing that when it comes to genetic makeup, inheritiance can be
|> >|> deceiving.

|> >I'm not sure which populations you refer to - melanesian? negrito?
|> >papuan? australian? vedda? And which african populations - negro or
|> >pygmy?

|> comparing solomon-like folks with classical east asians

Again, I don't understand - you stated that 3 populations (from
melanesia? micronesia? new guinea? australia?) had been compared with
african populations (negro? pygmy? nilo-sudanic?) and were found to
have a greater degree of genetic divergance than (presumably) other
samples around the world - and then you say that solomon islanders
(presumably melanesian) were compared to "classical east asians" - I'm
having a hard time following your line of reasoning. I think you
probably have some interesting things to say, but I'm not sure what
they are.

|> >The polynesian settlements are *very*
|> >recent, and open-ocean technology is viewed with scepticism anywhere
|> >beyond 40,000 b.p. or so. Java, on the other hand, had residant
|> >hominids a million years ago

|> True, but the fossile record dries up after that and I'm not even sure
|> that there were non-HS hominids in this subequatorial region when the
|> 75K - 50KY migrants came across.

The recent javanese findings are very timely, though I'm looking
forward to seeing the actual article. I'm curious about the
classification as h. erectus; I suspect that if the dating holds up,
the finds will eventually be reclassified as archaic h. sapiens.

There is the belief that somewhere
|> along the way there was a 60 mile stretch of water that had to be
|> crossed, and the best evidence suggests that it was first crossed 50
|> to 45 KYA. The latest dating for Peking man puts him at 400 KY old and
|> there is little evidence from that period to the present suggesting HE
|> presence (And I agree it seems odd that there shouldn't be).

More than odd; unbelievable. Once man has developed the
technology/culture to occupy a new ecological zone, how can it later
become unoccupied? That doesn't seem likely to me.

So unlike
|> what has been discovered in europe, which can be summerized as
|> evidence for interspecies cultural exchange (with a lack of any
|> genetic exchange) in southeast asia there is simply no evidence for
|> temporal territorial overlap.

Australia? Java? The periodic isolation of the indonesian islands, on
the 100,000 year glacial cycle, seems like the perfect mechanism to
insure that human (and also semi-human) populations with high degrees
of genetic divergance will come into contact. What happens then? This
is an interesting question.

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