Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

The Evolution of Modern Human Diversity: A Study of Cranial Variation

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

The Evolution of Modern Human Diversity: A Study of Cranial Variation

Article excerpt

The Evolution of Modern Human Diversity: A Study of Cranial Variation M. A. Lahr

Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pp. 416.

Marta Lahr is a Brazilian anthropologist who has spent some years at the University of Cambridge studying human cranial variation, and has here produced a valuable work of scholarship assembling worldwide data derived from the fossil record. She uses the data to evaluate theories of the evolution of contemporary human populations and their dispersal over the globe, and concludes that the evidence supports the single origin theory of modern humans rather than the multiregional theory.

This work will be a useful source book for those interested in the evolutionary history of living human populations. Its principal weakness is its failure to mention, let alone discuss, what may be the most significant aspect of human cranial variation. The growth of intelligence and brain size in the evolution of Homo sapiens is a wellestablished and non-controversial fact, but the gradient of brain size in relation to Latitude is not mentioned. Excluding post-Paleolithic migrations, such as the peopling of the Americas and, for example, the settlement of Malays in Malaysia or the Indonesians in Indonesia, human brain size corresponds loosely but significantly to the distance of a population from the equator. …

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