Variation in body size and shape among South American Indians

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Abstract

Available information on mean adult male and female height, weight, sitting height, and relative sitting height for 62 groups is used to examine the relationship between anthropometric measurements and climate, geographical location, and linguistic affiliation among South American Indians. Results of correlation analysis indicate that height increases from the north to the south of the continent and is significantly negatively correlated with precipitation but is not significantly correlated with most measures of temperature. Only in females is weight significantly correlated with any of the location or climatic variables. Sitting height is correlated with both temperature and precipitation, while relative sitting height is more strongly correlated with temperature, and the direction of the correlation indicates that groups living in colder areas have relatively shorter legs. The interpretation of the correlations for sitting height and relative sitting height is complicated by the fact that the correlations of these measurements change when only the low-altitude groups in the data set are considered. There are no significant differences in male height between linguistic stocks when the analysis is limited to those stocks represented by at least five groups. In general, there appears to be more patterning in body size and shape variation in South America than there is in terms of genetic variation. The correlations between anthropometric measurements and climate in South America differ in some ways from those observed for other areas of the world.

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