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The evolution of Body Size and Life History strategy in the extinct Australian pygmies

Migliano, AB; McAllister, P; (2013) The evolution of Body Size and Life History strategy in the extinct Australian pygmies. Human Biology (Detroit): the international journal of population biology and genetics (In press).

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Abstract

Current explanations of the Pygmy phenotype in Homo sapiens view short stature as adaptive to particular environmental constraints. The fact that reduced stature is demonstrably associated with poorer reproductive outcomes, however, challenges this view. An alternative view, consistent with the precepts of life-history theory, sees reduced stature as a by-product of adaptation for accelerated reproduction in environments of especially high mortality. Here we analyse anthropometric and demographic data on a short statured Australian population: the Barrinean Pygmy people of the North Queensland rainforests. That analysis reveals that short stature in Barrinean Aboriginal people is associated with both high mortality and the accelerated reproduction predicted by life-history theory. The finding of an inverse correlation between reduced stature and reproductive success in Barrinean people thus suggests that short stature in this Australian population is not adaptive but rather a by-product of accelerated life-history.

Type:Article
Title:The evolution of Body Size and Life History strategy in the extinct Australian pygmies
Location:US
Keywords:Barrineans, pygmies, life history, Aeta, mortality rates, Australian Aborigines
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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