Body proportions of circumpolar peoples as evidenced from skeletal data: Ipiutak and Tigara (Point Hope) versus Kodiak Island Inuit

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Abstract

Given the well-documented fact that human body proportions covary with climate (presumably due to the action of selection), one would expect that the Ipiutak and Tigara Inuit samples from Point Hope, Alaska, would be characterized by an extremely cold-adapted body shape. Comparison of the Point Hope Inuit samples to a large (n > 900) sample of European and European-derived, African and African-derived, and Native American skeletons (including Koniag Inuit from Kodiak Island, Alaska) confirms that the Point Hope Inuit evince a cold-adapted body form, but analyses also reveal some unexpected results. For example, one might suspect that the Point Hope samples would show a more cold-adapted body form than the Koniag, given their more extreme environment, but this is not the case. Additionally, univariate analyses seldom show the Inuit samples to be more cold-adapted in body shape than Europeans, and multivariate cluster analyses that include a myriad of body shape variables such as femoral head diameter, bi-iliac breadth, and limb segment lengths fail to effectively separate the Inuit samples from Europeans. In fact, in terms of body shape, the European and the Inuit samples tend to be cold-adapted and tend to be separated in multivariate space from the more tropically adapted Africans, especially those groups from south of the Sahara. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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