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For other uses, see Mongoloid (disambiguation).
Mexican Indian
Native Hawaiian girl
Tierra del Fuegan American Indian

Mongoloid /ˈmɒŋ.ɡə.lɔɪd/[1][2] is a term for peoples indigenous to East Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Siberia or North Asia, Northern Europe, the Arctic, the Americas, parts of the Pacific Islands, parts of Africa (Madagascar), and parts of South Asia. Individuals within these populations often share certain associated phenotypic traits, such as epicanthic folds (epicanthus), sinodonty, and neoteny.

Epicanthic folds and oblique palpebral fissures are common among most Mongoloid individuals. Most exhibit Mongolian spot from birth to about age four.[3][4] The vast majority have straight, black hair and dark brown almond-shaped eyes, and most have broad, relatively flat faces as well.[5]

Traits more controversially ascribed to Mongoloids include high intelligence[6][7][8] and a stoic, taciturn, unaggressive demeanor. The extent to which individual psychological makeup is a social construct, rather than a matter of biology, remains a matter of debate. (See also the articles Race and intelligence and Model minority.)

The term "mongoloid" was introduced by 18th century ethnologists to describe Central Asian and East Asian populations, as part of a tripartite typological model of race: Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid. Although some forensic anthropologists and other scientists continue to use such terms in some contexts (such as criminal justice),[citation needed] their usage is now discouraged by most anthropologists due to the questionable nature of such models. In addition, "Mongoloid" has had a second usage, now generally avoided as highly offensive: until the late 20th century, people with Down syndrome[9][10][11][12] were often referred to as "Mongoloids" or in terms of "Mongolian idiocy" or "Mongolian imbecility".

Geographic range and populations included[edit]

Chinese mandarins from the city of Canton (1902).
A Native American family from the United States (1970s).
An Austronesian/Malay family from Indonesia. Austronesian peoples originated from the island of Taiwan[13] migrated to Southeast Asia, Oceania (Polynesia), Africa (Madagascar) and as far as South America.[14][15][16]

Mongoloid or Asiatic peoples are the most spread out among all human populations since they have stretched almost completely around the earth's surface. They can be found as far "east" as Greenland, and yet also as far to the "west" as Kalmykia and the Crimea, giving Asiatic peoples or their descendants a historical presence across the vast expanse of four continents. According to the Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885–90), peoples included in the Mongoloid race are North Mongol, Chinese & Indochinese, Japanese & Korean, Tibetan, Malay, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, and Native American.[17]

In 1856, the "Mongolian" race, using a narrow definition which did not include either the "Malay" or the "American" races, was the second most populous race in the world behind the Caucasian race.[18] In 1881, the Mongoloid race, using a broad definition which included both Malays and indigenous Americans, was the most populous race on Earth,[19] and it was still the most populous race on Earth in the year 1892, using a narrow definition which did not include either the "Malayan" or the "American" races.[20] In 1994, the Mongoloid race, using a broad definition which included indigenous Americans, comprised 34% of the Earth's human population which made it the second most populous race behind Caucasoids who comprised 56% of the Earth's human population at that time.[21]

The first use of the term Mongolian race was by Christoph Meiners in 1785, who divided humanity into two races he labeled "Tartar-Caucasians" and "Mongolians".[22]

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach said that he borrowed the term Mongolian from Christoph Meiners to describe the race he designated "second, [which] includes that part of Asia beyond the Ganges and below the river Amoor, which looks toward the south, together with the islands and the greater part of these countries which is now called Australian".[23]

In 1861, Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire added the Australian as a secondary race (subrace) of the principal race of Mongolian.[24] In the nineteenth century Georges Cuvier used the term Mongolian again as a racial classification, but additionally included American Indians under the term.[25] Arthur de Gobineau defined the extent of the Mongolian race, "by the yellow the Altaic, Mongol, Finnish and Tartar branches".[26][27] Later, Thomas Huxley used the term Mongoloid and included American Indians as well as Arctic Native Americans.[28] Other terms were proposed, such as Mesochroi (middle color),[29] but Mongoloid was widely adopted.

In 1940, anthropologist Franz Boas included the American race as part of the Mongoloid race of which he mentioned the Aztecs of Mexico and the Maya of Yucatan.[30] Boas also said that, out of the races of the Old World, the American native had features most similar to the east Asiatic.[30]

In 1981, Elizabeth Smithgall Watts who taught anthropology at Tulane University[31] said that the question of American Indians being a separate race from "Asiatic Mongoloids" is a question of how much genetic difference a population needs from another population to be considered a "major race". She said that even the people who consider American Indians to be a separate race acknowledge that they are genetically closest to "Asians".[32]

In 1983, Douglas J. Futuyma, professor of evolutionary processes at the University of Michigan, said that the inclusion of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders under the Mongoloid race was not recognized by many anthropologists who consider them distinct races.[33]

In 1984, Roger J. Lederer, Professor of Biological Sciences at California State University at Chico,[34] separately listed the Mongoloid race from Pacific islanders and American Indians when he enumerated the "geographical variants of the same species known as races...we recognize several races, Inuit, American Indians, Mongoloid... Polynesian".[35]

In 1995, Dr. Marta Mirazon Lahr of the Department of Biological Anthropology at Cambridge University used the term Mongoloid to refer to Asian populations, Indigenous Australians, Pacific Islanders, Negritos, and Amerindians, classifying Northeast Asians as typical Mongoloids and all other Mongoloid groups as atypical Mongoloids.[36]

Finns were previously considered by some scholars to be partly Mongoloid, dating to claims by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. Finns (and other Finno-Ugrians in Europe) are now considered typically European.[37] 10% of Finnish genes are shared with Siberian populations. Nevertheless more than 80% of Finnish genes are from a single ancient Northeastern European population.[38] Sami people, another Finno-Ugric people, have also been considered Mongoloid by some;[39] however, they possess only a modest amount of East Asian ancestry.123


In 1900, Joseph Deniker said the "Mongol race admits two varieties or subraces: Tunguse or Northern Mongolian... and Southern Mongolian".[24]

Archaeologist Peter Bellwood claims that the vast majority of people in Southeast Asia, the region he calls the "clinal Mongoloid-Australoid zone", are Southern Mongoloids but have a high degree of Australoid admixture.[40]

Professor of anthropology, Akazawa Takeru (赤沢威?) at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, said that there are Neo-Mongoloids and Paleo-Mongoloids. Akazawa said Neo-Mongoloids have "extreme Mongoloid, cold-adapted features" and they include the Chinese, Buryats, Eskimo and Chukchi. In contrast, Akazawa said Paleo-Mongoloids are less cold-adapted. He said Burmese, Filipinos, Polynesians, Jōmon and the indigenous peoples of the Americas were Paleo-Mongoloid.[41]

History of the concept[edit]

The earliest systematic use of the term was by Blumenbach in De generis humani varietate nativa (On the Natural Variety of Mankind, University of Göttingen, first published in 1775, re-issued with alteration of the title-page in 1776). Blumenbach included East and South East Asians, but not Native Americans or Malays, who were each assigned separate categories.

In 1865, biologist Thomas Huxley presented the views of polygenesists (Huxley was not one of them) as "some imagine their assumed species of mankind were created where we find them... the Mongolians from the Orangs".[42]

In 1972, physical anthropologist Carleton Coon said, "From a hyborean [sic] group there evolved, in northern Asia, the ancestral strain of the entire specialized Mongoloid family".[43] In 1962, Coon believed that the Mongoloid "subspecies" existed "during most of the Pleistocene, from 500,000 to 10,000 years ago".[44] According to Coon, the Mongoloid race had not completed its "invasions and expansions" into Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands until "[t]oward the end of the Pleistocene".[44] By this time Coon hypothesis that the Mongoloid race had become "sapien".[44][verification needed]

Huxley's map of racial categories from On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind (1870).[45]
  1: Bushmen
  2: Negroes
  3: Negritoes
  4: Melanochroi (including Hamites and Moors)
  9: Esquimaux

Mahinder Kumar Bhasin (Hindi: महेंद्र कुमार भसीन) of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Delhi suggested in a review of an article referencing Mourant 1983 that "The Caucasoids and the Mongoloid almost certainly became differentiated from one another somewhere in Asia" and that "Another differentiation, which probably took place in Asia, is that of the Australoids, perhaps from a common type before the separation of the Mongoloids".[46]

Paleo-anthropologist Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari characterize "his [Carleton Coon's] contention [as being] that the Mongoloid race crossed the 'sapiens threshold' first and thereby evolved the furthest".[47]

Douglas J. Futuyma, professor of evolutionary processes at the University of Michigan, said the Mongoloid race "diverged 41,000 years ago" from a Mongoloid and Caucasoid group which diverged from Negroids "110,000 years ago".[33]

In 1996, professor of anthropology, Akazawa Takeru of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, said Mongoloids originated in Xinjiang during the "Ice Age".[41]

A South American Indian family from Brazil. Amerindians are New World Mongoloids, which diverged from the Northern Mongoloids in Northeast Asia after they entered the Americas.

In 1999, Peter Brown of the Department of Anthropology and Paleoanthropology at the University of New England evaluated three sites with early East Asian modern human skeletal remains (Liujiang, Liuzhou, Guangxi, China; Shandingdong Man of (but not Peking Man) Zhoukoudian's Upper Cave; and Minatogawa in Okinawa) dated to between 10,175 to 33,200 years ago, and finds lack of support for the conventional designation of skeletons from this period as "Proto-Mongoloid". He stated that "The colonisation of the Americas by 11 kyr indicates an earlier date for the appearance of distinctively East Asian features, however, the earliest unequivocal evidence for anatomically East Asian people on the Asian mainland remains at 7000 years BP." He saw this as "possibility that migration across the Bering Strait went in two directions and the first morphological Mongoloids evolved in the Americas." [48]

In 2006, Yali Xue (Chinese: 薛雅丽) et al. of the genome research Sanger Institute conducted a study of linkage disequilibrium that said that northern populations in East Asia started to expand in number between 34 and 22 thousand years ago, before the last glacial maximum at 21–18 KYA, while southern populations started to expand between 18 and 12 KYA, but then grew faster, and suggests that the northern populations expanded earlier because they could exploit the abundant megafauna of the "Mammoth Steppe", while the southern populations could increase in number only when a warmer and more stable climate led to more plentiful plant resources such as tubers.[49]


See also: Epicanthal fold
"Mongoloid" eye according to anthropologist Joseph Deniker.
Arthur Posnansky, Director of the Tihuanacu Institute of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory, Bolivia, in a writing entitled, Mongoloid Signs in Some Ethnic Types of the Andean Plateau, said that this indigenous boy had Mongolian folds that almost completely covered his eyelashes and the lacrimal parts of his eyes.[50]
Louis R. Sullivan, Curator of Physical Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History has identified these three men as "full-blood Samoan" men.
Distribution of Sinodonty and Sundadonty.

Mongoloids are characterized by absent browridges.[51]

Mongoloid subjects had about "20% higher bone density at the angle of the mandible" when compared to Caucasoid subjects.[52]

Samoans are of the Mongoloid race but their features represent a "slightly different evolution since the time of their separation and isolation from their parental stock" or a retention of features that have been lost in other Mongoloid types. The wavy and wooly hair of the Samoan is one such retention compared to the stiff, coarse hair that typifies the Mongoloid. Most of the characteristics of the Samoan have Mongoloid affinities such as: skin color, hair color, eye color, conjuctiva, amount of beard, hair on chest, nasal bridge, nostrils, lips, face width, biogonial width, cephalo-facial index, nasal height, ear height and chin.[53]

Mongoloid features are a mesocranic skull, fairly large and protruding cheekbones, nasal bones that are flat and broad, a nasal bridge that is slightly concave without depression in the nasion, "the lower borders of the piriform aperture are not sharp but guttered", shallow prenasal fossae, small anterior nasal spine, trace amounts of canine fossae and moderate alveolar prognathism.[54]

The Paleoindian has proto-Mongoloid morphology such as pronounced development of supraorbital ridges low frontals, marked post-orbital constriction, prominent and protruding occipitals, small mastoids, long crania and a relatively narrow bizygomatic breadth.[36]

The Mongoloid eyelid is characterized by puffiness of the upper eyelid, "superficial expansion of the levator aponeurosis" that are "turned up around this transverse ligament to become the orbital septum", "low position of the preaponeurotic fat" and narrowness of the palpebral fissure.[55]

The Mongoloid racial type is distinguished by forward-projecting malar (cheek) bones, comparatively flat faces, large circular orbits, "moderate nasal aperture with a slightly pointed lower margin", larger, more gracile braincase, broader skull, broader face and flatter roof of the nose.[56]

Mongoloid skin has thick skin cuticle and an abundance of carotene (yellow pigment).[41] Mongoloid males have "little or no facial or body hair".[57] Mongoloid hair is coarse, straight, blue-black and weighs the most out of the races.[58] The size of the average Mongoloid hair is 0.0051 square millimetres (7.9×10−6 sq in) based on samples from Chinese, North and South American Indians, Eskimos and Thais.[59] Mongoloid hair whether it be Sioux, Ifugao or Japanese has the thickest diameter out of all human hair.[60] Mongoloids evolved hairlessness to keep clean while wearing heavy garments for months without bathing during the Ice Age.[41]

In 1996, Rebecca Haydenblit of the Hominid Evolutionary Biology Research Group at Cambridge University did a study on the dentition of four pre-Columbian Mesoamerican populations and compared their data to other Mongoloid populations.[61] She said that Tlatilco, Cuicuilco, Monte Albán and Cholula populations followed an overall Sundadont dental pattern characteristic of Southeast Asia rather than a Sinodont dental pattern characteristic of Northeast Asia.[61]

The traits of the Mongoloid skull are: long and broad skulls of intermediate height, arched sagittal contour, very wide facial contour, high face height, rounded orbital opening, narrow nasal opening, wide, flat nasal bones, sharp lower nasal margin, straight facial profile, moderate and white palate shape, 90%+ shovel-shaped incisors and large, smooth general form.[62]

Miquel Hernández of the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona said East Asians (Kyushu, Atayal, Philippines, Chinese, Hokkaido and Anyang) and Amerinds (Yaujos, Santa Cruz and Arikara) have the typical Mongoloid cranial pattern, but other Mongoloids such as Pacific groups (Easter Island, Mokapu, Guam and Moriori people), arctic groups (Eskimos and Buriats), Fuegians (Selk’nam, Ya´mana, Kawe´skar) and the Ainu differ from this by having "larger cranial dimensions over many variables".[63]

Commenting on the lack of body hair (glabrousness) of Negroids and Mongoloids, Carleton S. Coon wrote that "[b]oth negroid and mongoloid skin conditions are inimical to excessive hair development except upon the scalp."[64]

The theoretical index of hair bending stiffness is calculated using the thickest and thinnest axial diameters of human hair, and this index differs by race. The theoretical indexes of hair bending stiffness of Mongoloids, Africans and Europeans are: 4.23, 2.75 and 1.59, respectively. This means that Mongoloids with the highest index value of 4.23 have the least bendable hair and Europeans with the lowest index value of 1.59 have the most bendable hair.[65]

Craniofacial trait variations[66]
Mongoloid Caucasoid Negroid
Cranial form broad medium long
Sagittal outline high,
highly variable,
Nose form medium narrow broad
Nasal bone size small large medium/small
Nasal profile concave straight straight/concave
Nasal spine medium prominent,
Nasal sill medium sharp dull/absent
Incisor form shoveled blade blade
Mongoloid Caucasoid Negroid
moderate reduced prominent
moderate reduced prominent
Malar form projecting reduced reduced
Palatal form parabolic/elliptic parabolic hyperbolic
Orbital form round rhomboid round
Mandible robust medium gracile, oblique
gonial angle
Chin projection moderate prominent reduced
Chin form median bilateral median


This is a Maidu, American Indian man from a publication by anthropologist Franz Boas in 1905.[67]

Mark J. Hudson, Professor of Anthropology at Nishikyushu University, Kanzaki, Saga, Japan, said Japan was settled by a Proto-Mongoloid population in the Pleistocene who became the Jōmon and their features can be seen in the Ainu and Okinawan people. Hudson said that, later, during the Yayoi period, the Neo-Mongoloid type entered Japan. Hudson said that genetically Japanese people are primarily Neo-Mongoloid with Proto-Mongoloid admixture.[68]

This is a Yurok, American Indian, woman from a publication by anthropologist Aleš Hrdlička in 1906.[69]

Theodore G. Schurr of the Department of Anthropology at University of Pennsylvania said that Mongoloid traits emerged from Transbaikalia, central and eastern regions of Mongolia, and several regions of Northern China. Schurr said that studies of cranio-facial variation in Mongolia suggest that the region of modern-day Mongolians is the origin of the Mongoloid racial type".[56]

Dr. Rukang Wu (Chinese: 吴汝康) of the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Academia Sinica, China, said that the remains of Liukiang human fossils were an early type of evolving Mongoloid that indicated South China was the birthplace where the Mongoloid race originated.[54]

Dr. Marta Mirazon Lahr of the Department of Biological Anthropology at Cambridge University said there are two hypotheses on the origin of Mongoloids. Lahr said that one hypothesis is that Mongoloids originated in north Asia due to the regional continuity in this region and this population conforming best to the standard Mongoloid features. Lahr said that the other hypothesis is that Mongoloids originate from Southeast Asian populations that expanded from Africa to Southeast Asia during the first half of the Upper Pleistocene and then traveled to Australia-Melanesia and East Asia. Lahr said that the morphology of the Paleoindian is consistent with the proto-Mongoloid definition.[36]


Main article: Neoteny
Yanomami woman and child from Amazon rainforest.

Ashley Montagu claimed "the skeleton of the classic Mongoloid type is very delicately made, even down to the character of the sutures of the skull which, like those of the infant skull, are relatively smooth and untortuous. In fact the Mongoloid presents so many physical traits which are associated with the late fetus or young infant that he has been called a fetalized, infantilized or pedomorphic type. Those who have carefully observed young babies may recall that the root of the nose is frequently flat or low as in Mongoloids, and that an internal epicanthic fold in such instances is usually present. The smaller number of individual head hairs and the marked hairlessness of the remainder of the body are infantile traits, as are likewise the small mastoid processes, the shallow fossa into which the jawbone fits (the mandibular fossa), the rather stocky build, the large brain-pan and brain, lack of brow ridges, and quite a number of other characters."[5]

Stephen Oppenheimer of the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University said, "An interesting hypothesis put forward by paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould many years ago was that the package of the Mongoloid anatomical changes could be explained by the phenomenon of neoteny, whereby an infantile or childlike body form is preserved in adult life. Neoteny in hominids is still one of the simplest explanations of how we developed a disproportionately large brain so rapidly over the past few million years. The relatively large brain and the forward rotation of the skull on the spinal column, and body hair loss, both characteristic of humans, are found in foetal chimps. Gould suggested a mild intensification of neoteny in Mongoloids, in whom it has been given the name pedomorphy. Such a mechanism is likely to involve only a few controller genes and could therefore happen over a relatively short evolutionary period. It would also explain how the counterintuitive retrousse [turned up at the end] nose and relative loss of facial hair got into the package". "[D]ecrease unnecessary muscle bulk, less tooth mass, thinner bones and smaller physical size; ...this follows the selective adaptive model of Mongoloid evolution".[70]

These two Japanese women have proportionately short legs, and this is a neotenous feature.

Paul Storm of the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands, said that in Australasia there are two types of cranial morphologies—the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) and "Sahul" (Australoid) types. Storm said that the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) type includes Chinese and Javanese people, and he said that the "Sahul" (Australoid) type includes Papuans and Australian aborigines. Storm said that the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) type has a flat face with high cheek bones, and Storm said that this "flat face" of the Chinese and Javanese is known as the "mongoloid face". Storm further said that the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) type has a more rounded skull, "feminine (juvenile) characters", a "retention of juvenile characters" and a limited outgrowth of superstructures such as the supraorbital region. Storm said that "Sunda" (Mongoloid) skulls resemble female skulls more than "Sahul" (Australoid) skulls resemble female skulls. Storm said that the skulls of "Asian" males ("Chinese and Javanese") have "more feminine characteristics", and he said that they have "many feminine characters in contrast with Australians".[71]

Indochinese Thailand kids with their parents.

Paul Storm said that Asia contained humans with "generalized" cranial morphology, but between 20,000 BP and 12,000 BP this generalized type disappeared as a new type emerged. This new type had a flatter face with more pronounced cheekbones, a more rounded head, reduced sexual dimorphism (male skulls started to resemble female skulls), a reduction of superstructures such as the supraorbital region and an increased "retention of juvenile characters". Storm said that this new type of skull that emerged is called the "Proto-Sunda" (Proto-Mongoloid) type, and it is distinguished from the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) type by being more "robust". Storm said that the "Mongoloid" or "Asian" type of skull developed relatively fast during a population bottleneck in Asia that happened during the Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene through a microevolutionary trend that involved a "continuation of neoteny and gracilisation trends". Due to different courses of evolution, Storm said that these two types of skulls, the "Sunda" (Mongoloid) type and the "Sahul" (Australoid) type, are now clearly recognizable at the present time.[71]

Andrew Arthur Abbie who was an anatomist and anthropologist at the University of Adelaide[72] talked about leg-to-torso length being related to neoteny. Abbie said that women normally have shorter legs than men, and he said that shorter legs are the normal condition in some ethnic groups such as Mongoloids. Abbie said that Mongoloids of whom he listed the people of "China, Japan and the Americas" have proportionately larger heads and shorter legs than Europeans, and he said that this is a case of "paedomorphism". Abbie said that aboriginal Australians and some African ethnic groups such as the "Negro", the "Hottentot" and the "Nubian" peoples have proportionately longer legs than Europeans, and he said that this is a case of "gerontomorphism". Abbie said that ethnic groups with proportionately shorter legs than Europeans are relatively "paedomorphic" in terms of leg-to-torso ratios when compared to Europeans, and he said that ethnic groups with proportionately longer legs than Europeans are relatively "gerontomorphic" in terms of leg-to-torso ratios when compared to Europeans.[73]

Cold adaptation[edit]

See also: Allen's rule
Some Inuit people on a traditional qamutik (dog sled) in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada.
Japanese school girls at a city park.

Professor of anthropology, Akazawa Takeru of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto Japan, said that Mongoloid features are an adaptation to the cold of the Mammoth steppe.[41] He mentions the Lewis waves of warm blood cyclical vasodilation and vasoconstriction of the peripheral capillaries in Mongoloids as an adaption to the cold.[41] He lists the short limbs, short noses, flat faces, epicanthic fold and lower surface to mass ratio as further Mongoloid adaptations to cold.[41]

Nicholas Wade said that biologists have speculated that the Mongoloid skull type was the result of natural selection in response to a cold climate, and Wade said that the Mongoloid skull type first started to indisputably appear in the archaeological record 10,000 years ago. Wade said that biologists have speculated that the fat in the eyelids of Mongoloids and the stocky builds of Mongoloids were selected for as adaptations to the cold.[74]

Takasaki Yuji (高崎裕治?) of Akita University, Japan,[75] in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science said that, "Mongoloid ancestors had evolved over time in cold environments" and the short limbs of the Mongoloid was due to Allen's ecological rule.[76]

Professor of anthropology at Trent University Ontario, Canada, Joseph K. So (1980) cited a study by J. T. Steegman (1965) that the so-called cold-adapted Mongoloid face has been shown in an experiment, using Japanese and European subjects, to not offer greater protection to frostbite.[77] In explaining Mongoloid cold-adaptiveness, So cites the work of W. L. Hylander (1977) where Hylander said that in the Eskimo (Inuit), for example, the reduction of the brow ridge and flatness of the face is due to internal structural configurations that are cold adapted in the sense that they produce a large vertical bite force necessary to chew frozen seal meat.[77]

An Inupiat family from Noatak, Alaska, 1929.

Miquel Hernández of the Department of Animal Biology at the University of Barcelona said that the high and narrow nose of Eskimos (Inuit) and the Neanderthals is an adaptation to a cold and dry environment, since it contributes to warming and moisturizing the air and the "recovery of heat and moisture from expired air".[63]

A. T. Steegman of the Department of Anthropology at State University of New York investigated the assumption that Allen's rule caused the structural configuration of the Arctic Mongoloid face.[78] Steegman did an experiment that involved the survival of rats in the cold.[78] Steegman said that the rats with narrow nasal passages, broader faces, shorter tails and shorter legs survived the best in the cold.[78] Steegman paralleled his findings with the Arctic Mongoloids, particularly the Eskimo and Aleut, by claiming these Arctic Mongoloids have similar features in accordance with Allen's rule: a narrow nasal passage, relatively large heads, long to round heads, large jaws, relatively large bodies, and short limbs.[78]

Kenneth L. Beals of the Department of Anthropology at Oregon State University said that the indigenous people of the Americas have cephalic indexes that are an exception to Allen's rule, since the indigenous people of the hot climates of North and South America have cold-adapted, high cephalic indexes.[79] Beals said that these peoples have not yet evolved the appropriate cephalic index for their climate, being, comparatively, only recently descended from the cold-adapted Arctic Mongoloid.[79]

Physical features of "Asian" people[edit]

See also: Asian people
A Malay from Singapore.

Willett Enos Rotzell professor of Botany and Zoology at the Hahnemann Medical College said the Asian race has skin color ranging from a yellowish tint to an olive shade, with black and coarse hair with a circular cross section, an absent or scanty beard, a brachycephalic skull, prominent cheek bones and a broad face. Rotzell said that the Asian race has its original home in Asia.[80]

Dennis C. Dirkmaat professor of paleoanthropology and archaeology at Mercyhurst University[81] said that Southeast Asian skulls can be distinguished from Asian and Native American skulls in that they are "smaller and less robust" with noses exhibiting a medium width without nasal overgrowth, and can "exhibit gracile features common to female skulls".[82]

Dr. Ann H. Ross, Co-Director of the Forensic Sciences Institute at North Carolina State University,[83] in a presentation on the concept of "race" (written in scare quotes) from the perspective of forensic anthropology, said individuals of "Asian ancestry" have an "intermediate profile", meaning the part of the maxilla is "moderate" compared to individuals of "African ancestry" who have a "projecting maxilla", and compared to individuals who are "White/Hispanic" who generally have a "straight profile" or "lack of prognathism". She qualified her statement about Hispanics by adding that their lack of prognathism would not hold true for Hispanic populations with "African admixture".[84]

Merina children from Madagascar.

Qing He et al. of the Obesity Research Center at Columbia University did a study on "fat distribution" of 358 prepubertal children and the study said that Asians had less gynoid fat than African Americans and more relative trunk fat than Caucasians, but less relative extremity fat than Caucasians.[85]

Douglas W. Deedrick, Unit Chief of the Trace Evidence Unit for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that hairs of "Mongoloid or Asian origin" are characterized as being straight and coarse with a circular cross section and a wider diameter than those of other "racial groups". He said that the cuticle is thicker than those of Negroid or Caucasian hairs while the medulla is "continuous and wide". He said that the pigment granules are smaller than the larger pigment granules of Negroid hair, and the pigment granules in the cortex are "generally larger" than those of Caucasian hair. Unlike the "evenly distributed" pigment granules of Caucasian hair, Asian hair frequently has clusters of pigment granules that form "patchy areas".[86]

Lamaholot people from Flores island, Indonesia. Many of the present Southern Mongoloid populations of Indonesia and Malaysia (including Singapore) also have a high degree of Australoid-Melanesian genetic heritage.[87]

Sang-Ki Jeong (Korean: 정상기) et al. of Chonnam University, Kwangju, Korea, using both Asian and Caucasian cadavers as well as four healthy young Korean men said that "Asian eyelids" whether "Asian single eyelids" or "Asian double eyelids" had more fat in them than in Caucasians.[88] Jeong et al. said that the cause of the "Asian single eyelid" was that "the orbital septum fuses to the levator aponeurosis at variable distances below the superior tarsal border; (2) preaponeurotic fat pad protusion and a thick subcutaneous fat layer prevent levator fibers from extending toward the skin near the superior tarsal border; and (3) the primary insertion of the levator aponeurosis into the orbicularis muscle and into the upper eyelid skin occurs closer to the eyelid margin in Asians."[88]

The average size of random melanosomes of "Asian skin" for Chinese individuals of Fitzpatrick phototype IV through V was measured to be 1.36 ± 0.15 μm2 x 10−2 which was between the higher value of 1.44 ± 0.67 μm2 x 10−2 measured for "African/American skin" of Fitzpatrick phototype VI and the lower value of 0.94 ± 0.48 μm2 x 10−2 measured for "Caucasian skin" of Fitzpatrick phototype II. The ratio of clustered to distributed melanosomes was 37.4% clustered vs. 62.6% distributed in Asian skin, 84.5%. clustered vs. 15.5% distributed in Caucasian skin and 11.1% clustered vs. 88.9% distributed in African/American skin.[89]

George Richard Scott, physical anthropologist at the University of Nevada, said that some East Asians (in particular, Han Chinese and some Japanese), as well as Native Americans, have a distinctive dental pattern known as Sinodonty, where, among other features, the upper first two incisors are not aligned with the other teeth, but are rotated a few degrees inward and are shovel-shaped.[90]

Both darker-skinned and lighter-skinned Asians have a thicker dermis than Caucasians of comparable skin pigment which may be the reason for a "substantially lower incidence of fine wrinkles" in Asians when compared to Caucasians, and this lower incidence of fine wrinkles may be the reason for the "myth" that Asian faces age slower than Caucasian faces.[91]

Asian people and black people have a thicker dermis than white people. The skin of Asian people and black people also has more sun protection than the skin of white people due to Asian people and black people having larger and more numerous melanosomes in their skin than white people. The thicker dermis and the more numerous melanosomes of larger size might be the reasons that Asian people and black people have a lower incidence facial wrinkles than white people.[92]

Turkic peoples[edit]

Main article: Turkic peoples
Uyghur girls with epicanthic fold in Xinjiang, China.

All the Turkic peoples native to Central Asia are of mixed Caucasoid and Mongoloid origin. Turkic people display a great variety of ethnic types.[93] They possess physical features ranging from Caucasoid to Northern Mongoloid. Mongoloid and Caucasoid facial structure is common among many Turkic groups, such as Chuvash people, Tatars, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and Bashkirs. Historically, the racial classification of the Turkic peoples was sometimes given as "Turanid". Turanid racial type or "minor race", situated at the boundary of the distribution of the Mongoloid and Europid "great races".[94][95]

The Turkic people live in central, eastern, northern, and western Asia as well as parts of eastern Europe.[96] The term "Turkic" represents a broad ethnic group of peoples including existing societies such as Altai, Azerbaijanis, Balkars, Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Crimean Karaites, Gagauz, Karachays, Karakalpaks, Kazakhs, Khakas, Krymchaks, Kyrgyz people, Nogais, Qashqai, Tatars, Turkmens, Turkish people, Tuvans, Uyghurs, Uzbeks, and Yakuts and as well as past civilizations such as Dingling, Bulgars, Chuban, Göktürks, Oghuz Turks, Khazars, Khiljis, Kipchaks, Kumans, Karluks, Bahri Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, Seljuk Turks, Tiele, Timurids, Turgeshes, Yenisei Kirghiz, and possibly Huns, Tuoba, Wusun, and the Xiongnu.[96][97][98][99][100]

Mongolian spot[edit]

See also: Mongolian spot
Mongolian spot visible on six-month-old Taiwanese baby girl.

A Mongolian spot, also known as Mongolian blue spot, congenital dermal melanocytosis,[101] and dermal melanocytosis[101] is a benign, flat, congenital birthmark with wavy borders and irregular shape. In 1883 it was described and named after Mongolians by Erwin Bälz, a German anthropologist based in Japan.[102][103][104][105] It normally disappears three to five years after birth and almost always by puberty.[3] The most common color is blue, although they can be blue-gray, blue-black or deep brown.

The spot is prevalent among East, South, Southeast, North and Central Asian peoples, Indigenous Oceanians (chiefly Micronesians and Polynesians), Sub-Saharan Africans,[106] Amerindians,[107] non-European Latin Americans, Caribbeans of mixed-race descent, and Turkish people.[108][109][110][111] They occur in about 90-95% of Asian and 80-85% Native American infants.[110] Approximately 90% of Polynesians and Micronesians are born with Mongolian spots, as are about 46% of children in Latin America,[112] where they are associated with non-European descent. These spots also appear on 5-10% of babies of full Caucasian descent; Coria del Río in Spain has a high incidence due to the presence of descendants of the first Japanese official envoy to Spain in the early 17th century.[110][113] Black babies have Mongolian spots at a frequency of 96%.[114]

Genetic research[edit]

Genetic Distances and Effective Divergence Times Between The Three Major Races of Man (3) by Masatoshi Nei (Japanese: 根井正利), Professor of Biology at Pennsylvania State University[115]
Comparison Proteins
(62 loci)
Blood groups
(23 loci)
(85 loci)
Effective divergence time (years)
Caucasoid/Mongoloid 0.011 0.043 0.019 41,000 ± 15,000
Caucasoid/Negroid 0.030 0.038 0.032 113,000 ± 34,000
Negroid/Mongoloid 0.031 0.096 0.047 116,000 ± 34,000
This genetic distance map made in 2002 is an estimate of 18 world human groups by a neighbour-joining method based on 23 kinds of genetic information. It was made by Saitou Naruya (斎藤成也?), professor at the (Japanese) National Institute for Genetics.[116] Saitou et al. said that the Pan-Mongoloid grouping includes the Australoid, Amerindian and Asian Mongoloid groups.[117]
This is a genetic distance map made by geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University that shows the "Mongoloid group" among others.[118]
Reproduction of a map made by Saitou Naruya showing the human migration path out of Africa.[116] Saitou et al. said that the Pan-Mongoloid grouping includes the Australoid, Amerindian and Asian Mongoloid groups.[117]

In 1994, geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University divided a principal coordinant map of 42 Asian populations into three groupings: Asian Caucasoids, Northeast and East Asian and Southeast Asian.[118] Along Southeast Asia, Cavalli-Sforza said that there is a separation between northern and southern Mongoloids.[118] To the West, Cavalli-Sforza said there is an approximate boundary between Caucasoids and Mongoloids from the Urals to the eastern part of India.[118] Along this boundary there has been hybridization, causing a Caucasoid-Mongoloid gradient.[118] More specifically, the ethnic groups Cavalli-Sforza said that were in the Northeast and East Asian cluster were the Koryak, Chukchi, Reindeer Chukchi, Nganasan Samoyed, Northern Tungus, Nentsy, N. Chinese, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Ainu, Mongol, Japanese and Korean.[118] Moving south, the ethnic groups Cavalli-Sforza said that were in the Southeast Asian cluster were the Indonesian, Malaysian, Taiwan aborigines, S. Chinese, Vietnamese, Muong, Thai, Filipino, Balinese and Nepalese.[118] Other studies also show that S. Chinese, Vietnamese and Tai peoples were found intermediate between the N. Chinese or other Northeast Asians and Southeast Asian.[119][120] "Reference populations". 

Atsushi Tajima (田嶋敦?) et al. of Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan, said that there is evidence for four separate populations, carrying distinct sets of non-recombining Y chromosome lineages, within the traditional Mongoloid category: North Asians, Han Chinese, Southeast Asians, and Japanese.[121]

Satoshi Horai (宝来聡?) of the Japanese National Institute of Genetics, said that phylogenetic analysis indicated that there are two distinct groups of Mongoloids – one which early on diverged from Negroids and another that diverged from Caucasoids later.[122] Horai said that Mongoloid distribution corresponds to North and South America, Oceania, Southeast Asia, east Asia, and Siberia.[122]

A study conducted by the HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium in 2009 used principal components analysis, which makes no prior population assumptions, on genetic data sampled from a large number of points across Asia. They said that East Asian and South-East Asian populations clustered together, and suggested a common origin for these populations. At the same time they observed a broad discontinuity between this cluster and South Asia, commenting most of the Indian populations showed evidence of shared ancestry with European populations. The study said that genetic ancestry is strongly correlated with linguistic affiliations as well as geography.[123]

Professor Lic. Edvin Santiago Trujillo said that antigen Dia is not present in blacks and Caucasians. Trujillo said that Dia is found in populations of Mongolic origin. Trujillo said that Dia is present in Chinese (2 — 5%), Polish (0.25 — 0.91%), Japanese (8 — 12%), Mexican Americans (8.2 — 14.7%) and American Indian tribes (7 — 54%). Trujillo said that when Dia is found in Caucasians, there is a presumption that they have a Mongoloid ancestor.[124]

"Estimates of the Number of Nucleotide Differences per Site Both Among (dxy)    and within (dx or dy)    Each of the Three Races, and Net Nucleotide Differences (d)    among the Races" made by Satoshi Horai (Japanese:宝来聡) of the Department of Human Genetics, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizouka, Japan.[122]
Caucasoid 0.0094 0.0012 0.0028
Mongoloid 0.0128 0.0137 0.0015
Negroid 0.0194 0.0203 0.0238

DNA studies of "Asian" populations[edit]

See also: Asian people
Human Genetic Map (2007) by
Peter A. Underhill, Department of Genetics, Stanford University and Toomas Kivisild of the Leverhulme Center of Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge[125]
  1. Europe
  2. East Asia
  3. Americas
  4. Australia and Oceania
  5. South Asia
  6. East Africa

Scott W. Ballinger et al. of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University said "Asian mtDNA lineages" originated in Southern China with the "Southern Mongoloid".[126]

Hiroki Oota (太田博樹?) et al. of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, said that "Asian populations" have high mtDNA variation with Vietnamese having the highest mtDNA diversity, but, overall, the genetic distance between "Asian populations" is small.[127]

Melissa L. Cann et al. of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, said that early Asians did not mix with "Asian Homo and that the features of "ancient Asian forms" indicate that "Asian erectus" was not ancestral to "Homo sapiens".[128] Since modern-day "Asians" do not show the amount of mtDNA divergence expected had they mixed with Homo erectus, Cann believes the expanding Homo sapiens from Africa replaced the Asian Homo erectus.[128]

Douglas C. Wallace of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University said that the mtDNA of the indigenous peoples of the Americas is "clearly Asian in character", but the few founding females carried "rare Asian mtDNAs", causing a different frequency of mtDNA and a "dramatic founder effect".[129] The Austro-Asiatic groups of India are proto Asiatic groups, like the Munda people.

Shama Barnabas, B. Joshi and C.G. Suresh of the Division of Biochemical Sciences, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India, said that evidence for the original people of India who they refer to as the "proto-Asiatic element" spreading into Southeast Asia to become Southeast Asians is shown by the mtDNA affinities between Indians and East Asians and Southeast Asians in DdeI 10394 site along with the associated Asian-specific AluI 10397 site.[130]

Data from Simon Gravel et al. (2010)[131]
Divergence Event
Method Used to Estimate Time of Event
Data from NIEHS Low-Coverage + Exons Exons
European and Asian Divergence Event 21,200 years ago 23,000 years ago 28,000 years ago
Eurasian and African Divergence Event 140,000 years ago 51,000 years ago 98,000 years ago
African and Ancestral Divergence Event 220,000 years ago 148,000 years ago 316,000 years ago
The African population used in this study was Yoruba people in Ibadan, Nigeria. The Asian populations used in this study were Han Chinese people in Beijing and Japanese people in Tokyo. The European population used in this study was European-origin people in Utah. The acronym "NIEHS" stands for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The column header "Low-Coverage + Exons" means a combination of "whole-genome, low-coverage sequencing" and the "exon pilot data".
Genetic diversity within/between continental populations by Hiroki Oota et al. of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany[127]
Number of Populations Within Populations average mean pairwise differences Between population average Fst
Africa 15 7.99 ± 2.72 0.201
Europe 12 4.63 ± 0.94 0.066
Asia 12 7.12 ± 0.91 0.033
Eurasia 27 5.95 ± 1.51 0.086
mtDNA divergence within and between 5 human populations by Melissa L. Cann et al. of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley[128]
% sequence divergence
Population 1 2 3 4 5
1. African 0.47 0.04 0.04 0.05 0.06
2. Asian 0.45 0.35 0.01 0.02 0.04
3. Australian 0.40 0.31 0.25 0.03 0.04
4. Caucasian 0.40 0.31 0.27 0.23 0.05
5. New Guinean 0.42 0.34 0.29 0.29 0.25
The divergence is calculated by a way developed by Masatoshi Nei. The values of the mean pairwise divergence between individuals within populations (δx)    appear on the diagonal. The values below the diagonal (δxy)    are the mean pairwise divergences between individuals belonging to two different populations, X and Y. The values above the diagonal (δ)    are interpopulation divergences that corrected for variation within those populations with the equation δ = δxy – 0.5(δx + δy).


Dr. George W. Gill, professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming and Dennis O'Neil professor of anthropology at Palomar College, said that "Mongoloid" concept originated with a now disputed typological method of racial classification.[132][133] All the -oid racial terms (e.g. Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid, etc.) are now often controversial in both technical and non-technical contexts and may sometimes give offense no matter how they are used.[134]

According to Ward O. Conner who wrote a book about John Langdon Down, since people with Down syndrome may have epicanthic folds, Down syndrome was widely called "Mongol" or "Mongoloid Idiocy".[135] In reference to this, the term grew in usage as a pejorative. A shortened version of the term, mong or mongol, is also used in the United Kingdom.[136] Chong Yah Lim, professor of economics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore said that he did not like the term "Mongoloid" because it has "come to mean demented physical and mental developments". Lim said that he thought the term "East Asian race" would be a more "appropriately neutral, modern term".[137]


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