Re: Race - why & when

Evan Hodgens (
Tue, 14 Mar 1995 05:09:32 GMT

In article <3jo91j$>, () wrote:

> In article <>, (Evan
> Hodgens) wrote:
> >
> > In article <3j3d05$>, (Herb
> > Huston) wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > What about the Tasmanians? They lived at a latitude comparable to
> > > Vladivostok's, and we know they were stuck there for a long time.
> > >
> > Tasmanians, aka Maori, are polynesians and were stuck there for about
> > 500 years, tops.
> >
> > There is no such thing as a dumb question, but there IS such a thing
as a dumb answer - I've given some.
> I might have missed the whole point of this thread... and I can't really be
> bothered looking through it.
> Tasmanian Aboriginals were separated from mainland people about 8000 years
> ago and had inhabited that part of the world for many thousands of years
> before. They are most definitely related most closely to the Australian
> people of South Eastern Australia. Maoris are Polynesians who live in New
> Zealand and are "bottoms" 60,000 years distant from the original
> inhabitants of southern Australia.
> Maybe my answer was too serious.
> Greg

Duhhhh - somehow I decided Tasmania was a part of New Zealand, but of
course it is off
the coast of Australia and its aboriginal inhabitants were not Maoris.

I think the orignal question was along the lines of "if white people got
white as a result of
being in a cold climate, how come Tasmanians aren't white"?

I don't think that the set of adaptations displayed by "Caucasians" (well,
the Northern European
ones, anyway) are a given of a cold climate. Eskimos are not "white". It
seems plausible, however,
that if the genetic mutuations for "whiteness" occur in a population, and
they have survival value
in a cold climate, than they will be selected for. Generally, the
survival value of "whiteness" that
has been posited is that it facilitates the production of Vitamin D (which
needs sunlight, and occurs
on the skin) among people who don't get a lot of exposure to sunlight due
to short daylight periods
in high latitudes for significant portions of the year, and being covered
with clothes.

If the mutuations for this adaptation didn't occur in a given group (like
Austalians) and there was
no competition from groups in which it did occur (which, for Australians,
there weren't), then
Tasmanians don't necessarily become "white". Or so it would seem to me.

> Archaeology and Natural History,
> Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies,
> Australia

There is no such thing as a dumb question, but there IS such a thing as a dumb answer - I've given some.