The Australoid race is a broad racial classification. The concept originated with a typological method of racial classification. They were described as having dark skin with wavy hair, in the case of the Veddoid race of South Asia (including the eponymous Vedda people indigenous to Sri Lanka) and Aboriginal Australians, or hair ranging from straight to kinky in the case of the Melanesian group.
According to this model of classification, Australoid peoples ranged throughout Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, the Andaman Islands and the Indian peninsula, as well as parts of the Middle East.
In the Out of Africa theory, the ancestors of the Australoids, the Proto-Australoids, are thought to have been the first branch off from the Proto-Capoids to migrate from Africa about 60,000 BCE. This migration is hypothesized to have taken place along the now submerged continental shelf of the northern shore of the Indian Ocean, reaching Australia about 50,000 BCE. However, the suggested Proto-Australoid–Proto-Capoid link has been contested.
In the late nineteenth century, anthropometric studies led to a proposition of racial groups, one of which was termed "Australioid" by Thomas Huxley in an essay 'On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind' (1870), in which he divided humanity into four principal groups (Xanthochroic, Mongoloid, Negroid, and Australioid).
Huxley also concluded that the Melanochroi (Peoples of the Mediterranean race) are of a mixture of the Xanthochroi (northern Europeans) and Australioids. Later writers dropped the first "i" in Australioid, establishing Australoid as the standard spelling.
Huxley's original model included the native inhabitants of South Asia under the Australoid category. The American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1996, p. 382) by American Association of Physical Anthropologists. L. L. (Luigi Luca) Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza in their text, The History and Geography of Human Genes (1994, P. 241) both use the term.
Balgir (2004) designates tribes as Australoid or Proto-Australoid according to language family. A 2006 CFSL research article which assessed "3522 individuals belonging to 54 (23 belonging to the Austroasiatic, 18 to Dravidian, 7 to Tibeto-Burman and 24 to Indo-European linguistic groups) endogamous Indian populations, representing all major ethnic, linguistic and geographic groups" for genetic variations to support such classifications found no conclusive evidence. It further summed that "the absence of genetic markers to support the general clustering of population groups based on ethnic, linguistic, geographic or socio-cultural affiliations" undermines the broad groupings based on such affiliations that exist in population genetic studies and forensic databases.
Forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkenson wrote in 2004 that Australoids have the largest brow ridges "with moderate to large supraorbital arches". Caucasoids have the second largest brow ridges with "moderate supraorbital ridges". Negroids have the third largest brow ridges with an "undulating supraorbital ridge". Mongoloids are "absent browridges", so they have the smallest brow ridges.
Huxley wrote in 1870 that Australoids are usually dolichocephalic; their hair is usually silky, black and wavy; they usually have large, heavy jaws and prognathism; their skin is the color of chocolate and the irises are dark brown or black.
Migration to the Americas hypothesis
Ancient skulls of individuals with Australoid morphologies have been found in the Americas, leading to speculation that peoples with phenotypical similarities to the Proto-Australoids may have been the earliest occupants of the New World. If this hypothesis is correct, it would mean that some Proto-Australoids continued the Great Coastal Migration beyond Southeast Asia along the continental shelf north in East Asia and across the Bering land bridge, reaching the Americas about 52,000 BCE.
In 2015 two major studies of the DNA of living and ancient people detect in modern Native Americans a trace of DNA related to that of native people from Australia and Melanesia. Australo-Melanesian DNA in some living Native Americans, including those of the Aleutian Islands and the Surui people of Amazonian Brazil. Walter Neves and Mark Hubb argue that these people descended from an early wave of migration that was separate from the one that gave rise to today’s Native Americans, and drew on a different source population in Asia.
Christy Turner notes that "cranial analyses of some South American crania have suggested that there might have been some early migration of "Australoids." However, Turner argues that cranial morphology suggests sinodonty in all the populations he has studied.
One of the earliest skulls recovered by archaeologists is an Upper Paleolithic specimen named the Luzia Woman. According to archaeologist Walter Neves of the University of São Paulo, Luzia's Paleo-Indian predecessors lived in South East Asia for tens of thousands of years, after migrating from Africa, and began arriving in the New World, as early as 15,000 years ago. Some anthropologists have hypothesized that Paleo-Indians migrated along the coast of East Asia and Beringia in small watercraft, before or during the last Ice Age.
Neves' conclusions have been challenged by research done by anthropologists Rolando Gonzalez-Jose, Frank Williams and William Armelagos who have shown in their studies that the cranio-facial variability could just be due to genetic drift and other factors affecting cranio-facial plasticity in Native Americans.
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