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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005 Dec;128(4):772-80.

Late Pleistocene/Holocene craniofacial morphology in Mesoamerican Paleoindians: implications for the peopling of the New World.

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Secció d'Antropologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.


Several studies on craniofacial morphology showed that most Paleoindians, who were the first settlers of the New World, clearly differ from modern Amerindians and East Asians, their supposed descendants and sister group, respectively. Here we present new evidence supporting this view from the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene horizon from Mexico, as well as from the most complete set of dated Paleoindian remains. We analyzed the phenotypic resemblance of early Mexicans with other South Paleoamerican and modern human series. Two independent approaches to the data were used. In the first case, individual specimens were tested for morphological similarity with a set of modern reference samples. In the second analysis, Mexican specimens were treated as a sample in order to compute minimum genetic distances. Results from both approaches tend to associate early Mexican skulls with Paleoindians from Brazil, an Archaic sample from Colombia, and several circum-Pacific populations. These results give support to a model in which morphologically generalized groups of non-Northeast Asian descent (the so-called Paleoamericans) entered the continent first, and then dispersed from North to South America through Central America. The large geographic dispersal of Paleoamericans, and their presence in Mexico in the Early Holocene, raise new issues about the continent's settlement scenario.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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