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

Authors

  • Rolando González-José,

    Corresponding author
    1. Secció d'Antropologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
    2. Comisión Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Téchnicas, CONICET, C1033AAJ Buenos Aires, Argentina
    • Centro Nacional Patagónico-CONICET, Bvd. Brown s/n, U9120ACV Puerto Madryn, Argentina
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  • Walter Neves,

    1. Laboratorio de Estudos Evolutivos Humanos, Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, 05422.970 São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
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  • Marta Mirazón Lahr,

    1. Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, UK
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  • Silvia González,

    1. School of Biological and Earth Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
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  • Héctor Pucciarelli,

    1. Departamento Científico de Antropología, Museo de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad de La Plata, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
    2. Comisión Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Téchnicas, CONICET, C1033AAJ Buenos Aires, Argentina
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  • Miquel Hernández Martínez,

    1. Secció d'Antropologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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  • Gonzalo Correal

    1. Museo de Historia Natural, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia
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Abstract

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. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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