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PLoS One. 2009 May 29;4(5):e5746. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005746.

Discrepancy between cranial and DNA data of early Americans: implications for American peopling.

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  • 1CONICET, División Antropología, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. iperez@fcnym.unlp.edu.ar

Abstract

Currently, one of the major debates about the American peopling focuses on the number of populations that originated the biological diversity found in the continent during the Holocene. The studies of craniometric variation in American human remains dating from that period have shown morphological differences between the earliest settlers of the continent and some of the later Amerindian populations. This led some investigators to suggest that these groups--known as Paleomericans and Amerindians respectively--may have arisen from two biologically different populations. On the other hand, most DNA studies performed over extant and ancient populations suggest a single migration of a population from Northeast Asia. Comparing craniometric and mtDNA data of diachronic samples from East Central Argentina dated from 8,000 to 400 years BP, we show here that even when the oldest individuals display traits attributable to Paleoamerican crania, they present the same mtDNA haplogroups as later populations with Amerindian morphology. A possible explanation for these results could be that the craniofacial differentiation was a local phenomenon resulting from random (i.e. genetic drift) and non-random factors (e.g. selection and plasticity). Local processes of morphological differentiation in America are a probable scenario if we take into consideration the rapid peopling and the great ecological diversity of this continent; nevertheless we will discuss alternative explanations as well.

PMID:
19478947
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2684646
Free PMC Article

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