The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Associations between genetic differentiation and craniometric interpopulation distances across North Eurasia


1Anuchin Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 2Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnologies, University of Ferrara, 3DFG Center for Advanced Studies “Words, Bones, Genes, Tools”, University of Tübingen

April 17, 2020 8:30AM, Diamond 5 Add to calendar

Genetic data have been extensively used to validate the role of craniometric variables as a source of information about human population history. Studies at the global level reported moderate to high correlations between the two types of data. However, recent studies have shown that the strength of association depends on a number of factors, including the type of cranial variables analyzed and the geographical scale of comparison. We explore the effect of these factors on the association between genetic FST and craniometric interpopulation distances across human populations in North Eurasia. We collected 42 cranial measurements for 694 male individuals representing 30 populations and paired these with genomic data of more than 50,000 loci for 2206 individuals. To test the effect of geographical scale, the total dataset was divided into 2 continental regions and 3 sub-continental regions. To test for the effect of cranial variable choice, we analyzed each variable independently and for cranial areas represented by 21 measurements of the mid-facial area, 15 of the neurocranium, and 6 of the mandible. The association of genetic and craniometric distances was assessed by Mantel tests. Our results show that the mid-face is the part of the skull showing the highest and most stable association with genetic distances (r=0.865, p=0.0001 in the total dataset). Notably, when continental or regional levels were considered, the strength of this association decreased substantially. Nevertheless, the use of specific “phylogenetically relevant” measurements led to an increase in the degree of morphology-genetic correlation in all the studied geographical regions.

This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG-FOR-2237: “Words, Bones, Genes, Tools: Tracking Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Trajectories of the Human Past”) and the RFBR (project number 18-56-15001).

Slides/Poster (pdf)