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

Craniofacial variation among American, African and Diaspora populations


1Department of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University, 2Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

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Research into the genetic admixture proportions from different geographic areas in the United States through autosomal markers demonstrates a complex process with differences in the extent of European contributions to Southern and Non-Southern African Americans. Recent demographic shifts and migration have further increased this diversity. What contribution can 3D craniofacial morphometrics make to this discussion? The purpose of this project is to examine West African variation as it relates to African Americans and to examine if a more precise geographic origin can be identified. Data for five populations were collected as part of the 3D-ID, Geometric Morphometric Classification of Crania for Forensic Scientists software and for Research in Human Identification initiative. Five samples from Diaspora populations including modern African Americans, West African (Angola, Ghana, and Nigeria) and African Slaves from Cuba are analyzed using eleven traditional anatomical craniofacial landmarks using the software MorphoJ. The plot of the Canonical Variates show a distinct cluster for the African American, African Slave and the Angolan sample, while the samples from Nigeria and Ghana cluster together. Interestingly, the Mahalanobis Distance results demonstrate that African Americans (D = 4.72, p-value = 0.13) and the African Cuban slave (D = 4.43, p-value = 0.09) sample do not differ significantly from the Angolan sample, while they are significantly different from the other two West African samples. These results suggest a stronger Angolan contribution resulting from the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade than other West Africans to New World Diaspora populations.

This project was funded in part by the National Institute of Justice (2005-MU-BX-K078, 2008-DN-BX-K163)

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