Re: puzzle of the negrito: isolated archaic populations

Gerold Firl (
9 Dec 1996 21:02:33 GMT

In article <>, (John A. Halloran) writes:
|> 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.

On the basis of hair type, the negrito would never be considered
australoid. The negrito have frizzy or kinky hair, while the
australian aborigines have straight or wavy hair.

A connection with the melanesians might be postulated, though the
melanesians do not show any indication of a long-term rainforest

|> "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.

Gene flow between negrito and surrounding populations clearly does
present a problem, since the negrito are in the very last stages of
being wiped out completely. The andamen islands probably represent the
purest remaining negrito population, though they are also threatened.

Rather than comparing negrito genetics with papuans or australians, I
would be interested in seeing a comparison with african pygmies.

|> >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
|> Africans."

Interesting; I'm not familiar with the Kadar.

The other remnant population mentioned earlier are the vedda, often
compared to australoids, and found in sri lanka, celebes, and possibly
also arabia. They are often considered to be more closely related to
caucasians than to africans or asians. Cavalli-sforza seems a little
loose and vague about throwing racial terms like "australoid" around.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
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=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf