Monday, March 29, 2010

Origins of Indians: Version 10.1

The tribes of Andaman and Nicobar:
There is a saying 'looks could be misleading'. However, we have an academic field(though most of the time termed 'pseudo science') that deals exclusively with looks of people. This is a field which allows shallow people to feel they are very scientific. I read some of them making the claim 'what is obvious need not be proven' and talk very authoritatively on looks. I have already discussed about dumbness of Anthropometry many a time. Unfortunately, what should have been a pure recreational field most the time taken little too seriously. Your present looks don't tell anything about your past in the timeline of human race.

Consider the case of Jarawas of Andaman islands. They look "African". Well their patrilineages and matrilineages are Asian. Their main Y-Haplogroup is D, which is mostly observed among Tibeto-Burman population and Japanese. Their main matrilineage is M, which is common in India. They don't carry any lineages that are characteristics of Bushmen (? ..I suppose that BBC author might have meant Pygmies).

They are cousins to Indians and Tibetans/Japanese. Now they don't resemble either. Therefore their African looks can only be explained in terms of convergent evolution. They are related to Africans with the same degree of relatedness of everybody outside Africa.

I would say the author of that BBC report might have sounded better educated had she also made this point that Jarawas are related to Asians though they look like Africans.

Yap Signature in South Asia


Maju said...

I would not say the Jarawas (or other Negritos) look particularly African. They have preserved maybe better some such traits (notably skin color and hair texture - that may be all in fact) than other populations but that's about it. Their range of variation is Eurasian rather than African and, rather than convergent evolution the case seems to be one of somewhat lesser divergence because they did not need to diverge as much as the peoples who headed northwards.

That Jarawa of the image does not look more African than European or East Asian, specially once you ignore the skin color. The lips are thin, the nose small, prognathism is not marked... with very limited cosmetic surgery, specially the epicanthic fold, he/she could look "Chinese"... except for the skin color.

manju said...

Why? Trying to prove you can 'look beyond looks'?

Jarawas (or other so-called Negritos) are generally compared to 'Pygmies'. I don't think Pygmies' short stature and other attributes are 'original' looks. I'm still correct in terming it as 'convergent evolution' with respect to Pygmies in Africa.

Maju said...

Not trying to "prove" anything. Just saying that if you ignore skin color, that person (and many other Negritos, if not most of them) does not look African. We know that skin color is probably the most adaptative trait humans have (hence: the one that can vary more easily), so it's a good idea to just ignore it altogether when doing anthropometry.