Australoid race

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Australoid is an outdated racial classification introduced by Thomas Huxley in 1870 to refer to certain peoples indigenous to South and Southeast Asia and Oceania.[1]. It holds oppressive and persecutory connotations[2] and used in support of scientific racism.[3]

The Australoid type was theorised by some early anthropologists to have been common among Aboriginal Australians, Melanesians, the populations grouped as "Negrito" (the Andamanese, the Semang and Batek people, the Maniq people, the Aeta people, the Ati people, and various other ethnic groups in the Philippines), as well as certain tribes of India, the Vedda of Sri Lanka, and a number of tribal populations in the interior of the Indian subcontinent[4]. One hypothesis derives Dravidians as from an originally Australoid stock, [5] a theory of which Biraja Sankar Guha was a proponent.[6]

The term Australoid belongs to a set of terms introduced by 19th-century anthropologists attempting to categorize human races. Such terms are associated with potentially offensive notions of racial types.[7] Terms such as Australasian, Australo-Melanesian and Veddoid appear in other works.[8]


Australians were marked as Negroid on the racial Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885-90)

The Australioid racial group was created 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).[9] Huxley's original model included the native inhabitants of South Asia under the Australoid category. Huxley further classified the Melanochroi (Peoples of the Mediterranean race) as a mixture of the Xanthochroi (northern Europeans) and Australioids.[10] Later writers dropped the first "i" in Australioid.

The term "Proto-Australoid" was used by Roland Burrage Dixon in his Racial History of Man (1923).

In a 1962 publication, Australoid was described as one of the five major human races alongside Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Congoid and Capoid.[11] However, under the three race paradigm of Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid, no Australoid category existed.[12]

In 1985, Archaeologist Peter Bellwood used the words "Australoid", "Australomelanesoid" and "Australo-Melanesians" to describe the genetic heritage of "the Southern Mongoloid populations of Indonesia and Malaysia". [13]

Racial depiction

Distribution of the races according to Carleton Coon (1962).
  Caucasoid race
  Congoid race
  Capoid race
  Mongoloid race
  Australoid race

Huxley wrote in 1870 that Australoids are usually dolichocephalic; their hair is usually silky, black and wavy or curly; they usually have large, heavy jaws and prognathism; their skin is the color of chocolate and the irises are dark brown or black.[14]

In The Origin of Races (1962), Carleton Coon attempted to refine such scientific racism by introducing a system of five races with separate origins. Based on such evidence as claiming Australoids had the largest, megadont teeth, this group was assessed by Coon as being the most archaic and therefore the most primitive and backward. Coon's methods and conclusions were later discredited and show either a "poor understanding of human cultural history and evolution or his use of ethnology for a racialist agenda." [3]

Forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkenson wrote in 2004 that Australoids have the largest brow ridges "with moderate to large supraorbital arches".[15] Caucasoids have the second largest brow ridges with "moderate supraorbital ridges".[15] Negroids have the third largest brow ridges with an "undulating supraorbital ridge".[15] Mongoloids are absent of brow ridges, so they have the smallest brow ridges.[15]

Possible early presence in the Americas

A cast of the Luzia Woman's skull

A speculative theory of Walter Neves in the 1990s proposes that an early Australoid population may have been the earliest occupants of the New World. The theory was based on an analysis of the Luzia Woman fossil found in Brazil, and found tentative academic support.[16]

If this hypothesis is correct, it would mean that some Australoid groups 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 by about 50,000 years ago.[citation needed]

Genetic evidence

In 2015, two major studies[citation needed] 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. Australasian admixture in some living Native Americans, including those of the Aleutian Islands and the Surui people of Amazonian Brazil. Evidence of Australasian admixture in Amazonian populations was found by Skoglund and Reich (2016).[17]

Walter Neves and Mark Hubbe 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.[18]


Christy Turner notes that "cranial analyses of some South American crania have suggested that there might have been some early migration of "Australoids."[19] However, Turner argues that cranial morphology suggests sinodonty in all the populations he has studied.

One of the earliest skulls discovered in the Americas by archaeologists is an Upper Paleolithic specimen named the Luzia Woman. According to Neves, 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 LGM. Neves' conclusions have been challenged researchers who argued that the cranio-facial variability could just be due to genetic drift and other factors affecting cranio-facial plasticity in Native Americans.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Pearson, Roger (1985). Anthropological Glossary. Krieger Publishing Company. pp. 20, 128, 267. Retrieved 2 February 2018. 
  2. ^ Black, Sue; Ferguson, Eilidh (2011). Forensic Anthropology: 2000 to 2010. Taylor and Francis Group. p. 127. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Fluehr-Lobban, C. (2005). Race and racism : an Introduction. Lanham : Rowman & Littlefield. p. 131-133. 
  4. ^ T. Pullaiah, K. V. Krishnamurthy, Bir Bahadur, Ethnobotany of India, Volume 5: The Indo-Gangetic Region and Central India (2017), p. 26 names: the tribes of Chota Nagpur, the Baiga, Gond, Bhil, Santal and Oroan tribes; counted as of partial Australoid and partial Mongoloid ancestry are certain Munda-speaking groups (Munda, Gadaba, Santals) and certain Dravidian-speaking groups (Maria, Muria, Gond, Oroan).
  5. ^ Sarat Chandra Roy (Ral Bahadur) (2000). Man in India - Volume 80. A. K. Bose. p. 59. Retrieved 21 May 2018. 
  6. ^ R. R. Bhattacharya et al. (eds., Anthropology of B.S. Guha: a centenary tribute (1996), p. 50.
  7. ^ "Ask Oxford – Definition of Australoid". Oxford Dictionary of English. 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-28. 
  8. ^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes (1994), p. 241. R. P. Pathak, Education in the Emerging India (2007), p. 137.
  9. ^ Huxley, Thomas On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind. 1870. August 14, 2006
  10. ^ Huxley, Thomas. On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind. 1870. August 14, 2006. <>
  11. ^ Moore, Ruth Evolution (Life Nature Library) New York:1962 Time, Inc. Chapter 8: "The Emergence of Modern Homo sapiens" Page 173 – First page of picture section "Man and His Genes": "The Australoid race is identified as one of the five major races of mankind, along with the Mongoloid, Congoid, Caucasoid, and Capoid races (pictures of a person typical of each race are shown)"
  12. ^ O'Neil, Dennis. "Biological Anthropology Terms." 2006. May 13, 2007. Palomar College."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  13. ^ Bellwood, Peter (1985). Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Australian National University. ISBN 978-1-921313-11-0. 
  14. ^ Huxley, T. H. "On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind" (1870) Journal of the Ethnological Society of London
  15. ^ a b c d Wilkenson, Caroline. Forensic Facial Reconstruction. Cambridge University Press. 2004. ISBN 0-521-82003-0
  16. ^ Ancient voyage of discovery, Independent, The (London), Apr 8, 1996 by David Keys
  17. ^ P. Skoglund, D. Reich, "A genomic view of the peopling of the Americas", Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2016 Dec; 41: 27–35, doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2016.06.016. "Recently, we carried out a stringent test of the null hypothesis of a single founding population of Central and South Americans using genome-wide data from diverse Native Americans. We detected a statistically clear signal linking Native Americans in the Amazonian region of Brazil to present-day Australo-Melanesians and Andaman Islanders (‘Australasians’). Specifically, we found that Australasians share significantly more genetic variants with some Amazonian populations—including ones speaking Tupi languages—than they do with other Native Americans. We called this putative ancient Native American lineage “Population Y” after Ypykuéra, which means ‘ancestor’ in the Tupi language family."
  18. ^ Mysterious link emerges between Native Americans and people half a globe away by Michael Balter published in the "American Association for the Advancement of Science" on July 21, 2015
  19. ^ Turner, Christy (2002). "Teeth, Needles, Dogs and Siberia: Bioarchaeological Evidence for the Colonization of the New World". The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World'. University of California Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-940228-50-4. 
  20. ^ Stuart J. Fiedel (2004). "THE KENNEWICK FOLLIES: "New" Theories about the Peopling of the Americas". Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
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