The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

The African Diaspora: Assessing Cranial Secular Change Using Geometric Morphometrics


Anthropology, Texas State University

Thursday Afternoon, 301E Add to calendar

Previous studies have explored cranial morphological changes in American Blacks that have taken place since the forced emigration of West Africans to the American colonies, known as the African Diaspora. This research builds on the previous research by using larger sample sizes and a parental population along with groups from the U.S. that have experienced European gene flow. The purpose of this presentation is to explore changes in craniofacial morphology resulting from the transplantation of West Africans to the U.S. using geometric morphometric methods. Studies such as these are informative because gene flow and environmental variation can result in changes in the craniofacial morphology.

Twenty-three cranial landmarks were collected from 179 individuals including West African, Early Historic American Black, Late Historic American Black, and Recent groups. The data were subjected to a GPA followed by a Canonical Variate Analysis in order to explore morphological changes between the groups. The West African group is contemporary with the African Diaspora, the Historic groups come from archaeological excavations in the U.S., and the Recent group is from the Forensic Anthropology Data Bank. Results indicate that the West African and Recent groups are most differentiated and both Historic Groups are most similar to the West African group. However, the Recent group and West Africans show higher cranial base values than both historic samples, which may be an indicator of childhood stress. The results will be discussed within the context of reconstructing gene flow and differences the environmental conditions among the four groups.

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