Is The Divergence Between Europeans And East Asians Temporally Deep Or Shallow, And How Can Linguistics Help In This Question?
Christy G. Turner II, Regents' Professor

Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University

 

Human biological diversity in Northern Eurasia reaches extremes in modern far eastern and far western populations. For example, English- and Japanese-speakers have dental trait frequencies such as incisor shoveling that have bipolar occurrences -- very low and very high, respectively. Geographically intermediate populations have intermediate trait frequencies. Are these apparent clines due to post-Pleistocene east-west gene flow, or are they the continuously varying condition that existed throughout the Pleistocene occupation of northern Eurasia by anatomically modern humans? Does this same question apply to the Altaic family that combines Turkic and Japanese (Ruhlen 1975, 1994)? Similarly, is Greenberg's (n.d.) Eurasiatic family a post-Pleistocene development or an older family that might have embraced the speech of both biological Cro-Magnons (Maybe even late Neandertals?) like Kostienki and Sunghir, and eastern people such as Mal'ta, Afontova Gora, Choukoutien Upper Cave, and the trans-Beringian Paleo-Indians?

These and related concerns will be discussed in the light of current studies in Siberian prehistory, physical anthropology, and linguistics. If solvable, the answers may apply directly to the core issue about a singular or multiple origin of modern humans. The Out-of-Africa model would call for an east-west split and strong biocultural divergences between the northerly expanding modern humans. The Multi-Regional model would predict east-west biocultural clines for north Eurasian history.