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

Cranial variation among three regional groups in Mexico


1Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 2Department of Anthropology, Texas State University-San Marcos

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Cranial morphology can be influenced by either genetic and/or environmental factors; therefore it can be used to study the population structure and population history (Relethford 1996). This study examines cranial morphology in a sample of 63 Mexican crania obtained from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner and the Universidad Nacional Autόnoma de México to determine if a regional differentiation (North, Central, South) is evident in cranial morphology. Phenotypic variation and biological distances were assessed using 10 craniofacial measurements following Howells (1973) definitions. A Mahalanobis D2 and canonical discriminant analysis was performed to compare significant differences between the three regional groups. The distance relationship suggests that the Northern region of Mexico present the greatest biological distance, while the Central and Southern regions show the closest similarities. Canonical coefficients indicate that individuals from the Northern region display a larger overall crania, in particular a longer maximum cranial length, cranial base and frontal cord than individuals from the Central and Southern regions of Mexico. Isolation by distance and migration patterns may be possible factors responsible for the morphological differentiation and diversification of Mexican crania across the Central, Northern and Southern regions of Mexico. These results emphasize the need for understanding the cause of variation within populations in Mexico, as well as the need to incorporate these findings into forensic practice when identifying remains of Hispanic ancestry.

This project was supported by Award No. 2008-DN-BX-K464 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

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