|Regions with significant populations|
|Isolated geographic regions in India and Maritime Southeast Asia|
|Andamanese languages, Aslian languages, Philippine Negrito languages|
|Animism, folk religions|
The term Negrito (//) refers to several diverse ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Maritime Southeast Asia and the Andaman Islands. Populations classified as Negrito currenty include: the Andamanese peoples of the Andaman Islands, the Semang peoples (among them, the Batek people) of Peninsular Malaysia, the Maniq people of Southern Thailand, as well as the Aeta of Luzon Island, Ati and Tumandok of Panay Island, Agta of Sierra Madre and Mamanwa of Mindanao Island and about 30 other officially recognized ethnic groups in the Philippines.
Based on their physical similarities, Negritos were once considered a single population of closely related people. However genetic studies suggest that they consist of several separate groups, as well as displaying genetic heterogeneity. Negrito ethnic groups are genetically positioned in between South-Eurasian (Papuan-related) populations and East-Eurasian (East Asian-related) populations. The pre-Neolithic South-Eurasian populations of Southeast Asia were largely replaced by the expansion of various East-Eurasian populations, beginning about 50,000BC to 25,000BC years ago from Mainland Southeast Asia. The remainders, known as Negritos, form small minority groups in geographically isolated regions.
Historically they engaged in trade with the local population but were also often subjected to slave raids while also paying tributes to the local Southeast Asian rulers and kingdoms.
The word Negrito is the Spanish diminutive of negro, used to mean "little black person." This usage was coined by 16th-century Spanish missionaries operating in the Philippines, and was borrowed by other European travellers and colonialists across Austronesia to label various peoples perceived as sharing relatively small physical stature and dark skin. Contemporary usage of an alternative Spanish epithet, Negrillos, also tended to bundle these peoples with the pygmy peoples of Central Africa, based on perceived similarities in stature and complexion. (Historically, the label Negrito has also been used to refer to African pygmies.) The appropriateness of using the label "Negrito" to bundle peoples of different ethnicities based on similarities in stature and complexion has been challenged.
Most Negrito groups lived as hunter-gatherers, while some also used agriculture. Today most Negrito groups live assimilated to the majority population of their homeland. Discrimination and poverty are often problems.
Origin and ethnic relations
Negrito peoples descend from the first settlers of Southern Asia and Oceania, known as South-Eurasians in population genomics, as well as from early East-Eurasian lineages, which expanded from Mainland Southeast Asia into Insular Southeast Asia between 50,000BC to 25,000BC. Despite being isolated, the different peoples do share genetic similarities with their neighboring populations. They also show relevant phenotypic (anatomic) variations which require explanation.
A recent genetic study found that unlike other early groups in Oceania, Andamanese Negritos lack Denisovan hominin admixture in their DNA. Denisovan ancestry is found among indigenous Melanesian and Aboriginal Australian populations at between 4–6%.
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. Indeed, this sentiment is echoed in a more recent work from 2013 which concludes that "at the current level of genetic resolution ... there is no evidence of a single ancestral population for the different groups traditionally defined as 'Negritos'.
Recent studies, concerning the population history of Southeast Asia, suggest that most modern Negrito populations in Southeast Asia show a rather strong East-Eurasian ancestry, ranging between 30% to 50% of their ancestry, but are generally closest to other Oceanian populations, such as Papuans.
The main paternal haplogroup of the Negritos is K2b in the form of its rare primary clades K2b1* and K2b2*. Most Aeta males (60%) carry K-P397 (K2b1), which is otherwise uncommon in the Philippines and is strongly associated with the indigenous peoples of Melanesia and New Guinea. Some Negrito populations also belong to sub-lineags of haplogroup D-M174 as well as Haplogroup O-M175, which are common among Andaman Islanders (65%), as well as the Maniq and the Semang in Malaysia.
The Onge and all the Adamanan Islanders belong strictly to the mitochondrial Haplogroup M (a descendant of haplogroup L3, typically found in Africa). Haplogroup M is also the predominant marker of other Negrito tribes from Thailand and Malaysia, as well as Aboriginal Australians and Papuans, and significant in African population of Somalis, Oromo, Tuaregs. A 2009 study by the Anthropological Survey of India and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute identified seven genomes from 26 isolated ethnic groups from the Indian mainland, such as the Baiga tribe, which share "two synonymous polymorphisms with the M42 haplogroup, which is specific to Australian Aborigines". These were specific mtDNA mutations that are shared exclusively by Australian aborigines and these Indian tribes, and no other known human groupings. Bulbeck (2013) shows the Andamanese maternal mtDNA is entirely mitochondrial Haplogroup M.
Based on superficial similarities of a number of physical features – such as short stature, dark skin, scant body hair, and occasional steatopygia (large, curvaceous buttocks and thighs) – some scholars[who?] suggested a common origin for the Negrito and the Pygmies of Central Africa. The claim that the Andamanese more closely resemble African pygmies than other Austronesian populations in their cranial morphology in a study of 1973 added some weight to this theory, before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with their neighbours.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1879 American Cyclopædia article Negritos.|