Re: puzzle of the negrito: isolated archaic populations

John A. Halloran (
7 Dec 1996 12:29:03 -0700

In article <58a5sd$> (Gerold Firl) writes:

>Why are the negrito referred to as "australoid"? There seems to be solid
>grounds for viewing them as populations of longstanding separation.

Cavalli-Sforza was analyzing a group of people that others call "australoid"
on the basis of "superficial, anthroposcopic characters, skin color, hair or
body shape, and there is always the suspicion that they are the product of
convergence because of a common climate. Thus far genetic data have not
helped to recognize a relationship." The History and Geography of Human Genes,
p. 356. "They clearly show greater similarity to their neighbors in India or
Southeast Asia than to New Guineans or Australians." "The separation is
clearly too great and the gene flow from neighboring populations too important
to find a significant relationship with the present data by this method." ibid.

>I'm confused by the comparison of dravidian and australian genetics; surely
>these two peoples and the negrito must be viewed as branches of the human
>family tree which separated long ago? Can you explain why cavalli-sforza makes
>such a comparison?

Probably because others have sought to link "pre-Dravidian" people with the
"australoid" Negritos. On the same page referenced above he compares the
"Australoid" Kadar population of Kerala, India with Negritos in the
Phillipines and finds a very large distance between them. He studied the
Kadar because of the distance between them and other Indians. On p. 239, they
say, "The Kadar, a small tribal group (about 1000 individuals) in Kerala, is a
major outlier. This may be due to drift but is interesting because,
morphologically, the Kadar are considered an Australoid group in India.
Extreme types have some Negrito characters - that is, frizzy hair instead of
straight or wavy hair and especially dark skin - but is has been suggested
that some observed examples of frizzy hair are due to rare admixture with


John Halloran