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Oceanic Tooth-Size Variation as a Reflection of Biological and Cultural Mixing [and Comments and Reply]

C. Loring Brace, Robert J. Hinton, Tasman Brown, R. C. Green, Edward F. Harris, Alex Jacobson, Christopher Meiklejohn, Yuji Mizoguchi, Shao Xiang-Qing, Patricia Smith, Richard J. Smith, J. Specht, John Terrell and J. Peter White
Current Anthropology
Vol. 22, No. 5 (Oct., 1981), pp. 549-569
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2742288
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Oceanic Tooth-Size Variation as a Reflection of Biological and Cultural Mixing [and Comments and Reply]
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Abstract

Tooth size in Oceania varies from a minimum equivalent to the figure for the pre-Chinese inhabitants of Taiwan to a maximum equivalent to the figure for large-toothed Australian Aborigines. The minimum figure is found among the easternmost and weternmost inhabitants, and the maximum figure occurs in the highlands of New Guinea. Elsewhere, intermediate figures are evident, and it is apparent that the populations in which they can be observed display phenotypes that are intermediate in pigmentation and hair form between those on the Asian mainland and those whose identification with an equatorial habitat can be traced back into the Pleistocene. In addition, it is evident that the small-toothed populations speak languages that are most closely related to hypothetical Proto-Austronesian While the largest-toothed populations speak languages that are not related to Austronesian at all. To the extent that tooth size rises above the level of that found in the most typical Autronesian-speakers, the language deviates from hypothetical Proto-Austronesian. This suggests that the original population of New Guinea and some adjacent islands continued in situ from well back into the Pleistocene. Within the last 4,000 years, populations which had been shaped by long-term residence on the Asian mainland moved out into the Pacific via Taiwan and the Philippines. Superior navigation and resource utilization capabilities allowed them to colonize previously uninhabited islands maintaining much of their original phenotype, but where they encountered the earlier inhabitants on the larger Melanesian landmasses they display the effects of cultural and phenotypic mixing in proportion to the contribution of the two main parent populations.

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