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

Diachronic cranial morphological diversity in South America: a functional approach


1Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo, Universidad Católica del Norte, 2Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Friday 2:30-2:45, Grand Ballroom II Add to calendar

From a cranial morphological perspective, Native South Americans present high continental diversity, despite the general consensus among molecular biologists that these populations are characterized by low biological variation. Here, we test the validity of this assertion, by contrasting the between-groups morphological variation of Late South American populations with worldwide and Early South American reference groups. We focus on distinct anatomical regions from the neurocranium and the face, and test which regions are responsible for the late morphological diversity seen on the continent. Our analyses estimate minimum Fst values for different sets of populations. To compare the results observed in South America, we calculated the Fst values for worldwide populations and for series within each continent. South American series present the highest Fst values of all continents, with values comparable to the ones observed in the worldwide analysis. This high Fst value is not observed among Early South Americans, who have very low between-group variation. When contrasted to Early Americans, each Late South American series shows high Fst values, demonstrating a strong diachronic differentiation process for the continent. The only exception to this scenario is the Botocudo Indians, who do not show high Fst values when compared to Early series and might represent a group who retained the early morphological pattern. Finally, this differentiation scenario is not uniform across all anatomical regions. Considering Botocudos, changes in the occipital and orbital regions are responsible for the morphological differences seen between them and the early series.

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