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Racial Diversity

The word 'race' is tainted forever by the Nazi era and it is loosely applied to nations, religions or color. Paradoxically, a white person can be accused of racism if they insult a dark-skinned person although they are the same Caucasoid race. It still has a scientific meaning and, as children are quick to notice, people from different regions do look dramatically different from one another and the subject does have to be tackled in order to discover our origins.

Humanity used to be divided into five distinctive races with racially intermediate, 'mongrel' or clinal populations. Currently, at least 60% of world population is predominantly 'Caucasoid'. They are distinguished by variable beard and body hair, normally well developed in males. Balding is prevalent as is premature grayness and skin color ranges from fair to almost black in Bengal. The other major race is 'Mongoloid' with skin color ranging from sallow white to reddish brown. Hair is black, straight, coarse and long, although beard and body hair are almost non-existent. Eyes are set forward in their sockets, protected by fat-padded lids with an internal fold which makes them appear slanted.

The Caucasoid proportion of world population was comparatively small before the 'Aryan Invasions' of India and Africa during the seafaring Bronze Age.


The extermination of seafaring Mongoloids took place in the last 500 years when the European invention of the gun-armed sailing ship enabled Europeans to carry soldiers overseas in search of gold. Some of these Europeans were the unconscious carriers of city-bred diseases such as typhus, smallpox and measles to which the native populations possessed no immunity. The consequences were catastrophic. These ancient Mongoloid populations may hold the clue as to how the original Island people looked like.

Flores

Whenever the Islanders settled on land long enough, they adapted fully to contrasting local environments, forming distinct races. Ancient races, such as the Neanderthal are now extinct, and present races are a complex hybrid between the ancient races and the Islanders. This makes pygmies interesting since they were protected from outside interference and are probably the only surviving examples of the original Islanders that have adapted to jungle conditions.

During hundreds of thousands of years, the Islanders drifted up the rivers of West Africa and sufficient numbers settled form breeding populations. Over time they adapted to forest life and although a full-sized person can only cut his way slowly through the forest, pygmies can glide through, leaping, swinging on lianas and running a along fallen trees. To do this they have to be exceptionally loose-jointed - a trait which makes them exceptionally fine dancers. Indeed there is written evidence that some 4,300 years ago, a Pharaoh, Phiops II of the 6th Dynasty asked the 'Sea-people' to bring him back a Pygmy girl dancer for his court.

On the island of Flores, east of Java, Indonesian palaeo-anthropologists have recently discovered the skeletal remains of some extinct pygmies who may have lived there as recently as 18,000 years ago. The almost complete skeleton of a woman was accompanied by bone fragments and teeth from seven other individuals. There was also evidence of their having crafted stone tools and using fire for cooking. They are reported to have been just over a metre tall, with skulls about a third of the average size of living races. The small size of the single skull found cannot be easily explained. Although intelligence is not directly associated with brain size no human race extinct or extant had such small brains and it has to be realised that these bones were not fossilised in the usual sense of the term. The bones found in the rock shelter of Liang Bua. had been reduced to ‘the consistency of mashed potato’ and special techniques had to be used to preserve them. a single unfossilised specimen in that condition may not be reliable as an index of its original size. Bones consist of 60% mineral matter and in the the aseptic environment of alkaline volcanic ash and limestone caves, putrefaction is prevented until the organic material becomes replaced by stone, so that fossil “bones” have actually become stone-casts in stone in their original size and shape.

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