|Regions with significant populations|
(Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
(Luzon, Palawan, Panay, Negros, Cebu, and Mindanao)
The Negrito (//) are several ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Southeast Asia. Their current populations include Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, Semang peoples of Malaysia, the Mani of Thailand, and the Aeta, Agta, Ati, and 30 other peoples of the Philippines.
Negritos are believed to descend from ancient Australoid-Melanesian settlers of Southeast Asia. Genetically, they are most similar to neighboring populations and there is no genetic evidence to indicate a Sub-Saharan African Negroid origin for the Negritos or a genetic relation.
Occasionally, some Negritos are referred to as Negrillos (pygmies), bundling them with peoples of similar physical stature in Central Africa, and likewise, the term Negrito was previously occasionally used to refer to African Pygmies.
Negritos are believed to descend from Australoid Melanesian settlers of Southeast Asia. Negritos are the most genetically similar to neighboring populations and no genetic evidence has indicated a Sub-Saharan African origin for the Negritos.
A number of features would seem to suggest a common origin for the Negritos and Negrillos (African Pygmies). No other living human population has experienced such long-lasting isolation from contact with other groups.
Features of the Negrito include short stature, dark skin, woolly hair, scant body hair, and occasional steatopygia. The claim that Andamanese pygmoids more closely resemble Africans than Asians in their cranial morphology in a study of 1973 added some weight to this theory, before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with Asians.
It has been suggested that the craniometric similarities to Asians could merely indicate a level of interbreeding between Negritos and later waves of people arriving from the Asian mainland. This hypothesis is not supported by genetic evidence that has shown the level of isolation which populations such as the Andamanese have experienced. However, some studies have suggested that each group should be considered separately, as the genetic evidence refutes the notion of a specific shared ancestry between the "Negrito" groups of the Andaman Islands, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines.
A study on blood groups and proteins in the 1950s suggested that the Andamanese were more closely related to Oceanic peoples than Africans. Genetic studies on Philippine Negritos, based on polymorphic blood enzymes and antigens, showed they were similar to surrounding Asian populations. Genetic testing places all the Onge and all but two of the Great Andamanese in the mtDNA Haplogroup M found in East Africa, East Asia, and South Asia, suggesting that the Negritos are at least partly descended from a migration originating in eastern Africa 60,000 years ago. This migration is hypothesized to have followed a coastal route through India and into Southeast Asia, which is sometimes referred to as the Great Coastal Migration.
Analysis of mtDNA coding sites indicated that these Andamanese fall into a subgroup of M not previously identified in human populations in Africa and Asia. These findings suggest an early split from the population of migrants from Africa; the descendants of these migrants would eventually populate the entire habitable world. Haplogroup C-M130, Haplogroup O-2 seen in dark-skinned Negritos like the Semang of Malaysia and Phillipeans Negritos, and haplogroup D-M174 are believed to represent Y-DNA in the migration.
A recent genetic study found that unlike other early groups in Malesia, Andamanese Negritos lack the Denisovan hominin admixture in their DNA. Denisovan ancestry is found among indigenous Melanesian and Australian populations between 4–6%.
Negritos may have also lived in Taiwan. The Negrito population shrank to the point that, up to 100 years ago, only one small group lived near the Saisiyat tribe. A festival celebrated by the Saisiyat gives evidence to their former habitation of Taiwan. The Saisiyat tribe celebrate the black people in a festival called Pas-ta'ai.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Negrito.|
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1879 American Cyclopædia article Negritos.|
- Filipiniana.net: "Negritos in the Philippines" — detailed book written by an American at the turn of the previous century holistically describing the Negrito culture.
- Andaman.org: The Negrito of Thailand
- Historycooperative.org: Africans and Asians: Historiography and the Long View of Global Interaction