The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Population biodistance in pre-European contact central México, Veracruz, and the Yucatán

CATHY WILLERMET1, HEATHER J.H. EDGAR2 and COREY RAGSDALE2.

1Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Central Michigan University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Thursday 11:00-11:15, Broadway III/IV Add to calendar

Migration patterns in pre-European contact México are complex, but local population affiliations might be detectable on a microevolutionary scale using dental morphological trait data, as they have been in other areas of the world. We compared four local cultural groups in adjacent regions of México to illuminate local population differences: the Toltecs and Aztec Mexicas from the Valley of México, the Totonacs from the Gulf Coast lowlands of Veracruz, and the Maya from the northern lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula. Samples dated to Classic and Post-Classic time periods. Pseudo-Mahalanobis D2 distance statistics were calculated using 14 dental morphological traits in order to test three hypotheses regarding how culture group, geography, and time may have structured population relationships.

Cluster analysis and principle components of the distances show differences among the Aztec Mexica, Totonac, and Mayan/Toltec archaeological samples. Mayan and Toltec populations were difficult to distinguish from one another, a result in concordance with previously published work. Results indicate that the dental morphological trait data is sensitive enough to detect biodistance data over relatively small time and space dimensions in México, and that phenotypic similarities better reflect culture group variation than geographic or temporal variation. Seeing patterned variation in dental traits at this level is a necessary step before deepening analysis to include more sites, regions, and temporal periods. While more samples are needed, demonstrating that these groups are distinct at this broad level of analysis is heartening for future work on tracing past migration patterns in México.

This study was funded in part by Central Michigan University, Faculty Research and Creative Endeavors #48821.

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