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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Colonial modern skeletal change in the U.S.A.

Eighty-two people dating from 1975 to 1879 compared with 182 modern middle-class White and Black skeletons test the myths of radical changes produced by improved diet, less disease, and nineteenth century immigration. Longevity increases and health and growth improvement is clearest in reduced juvenile deaths (census data) and deepening of true pelvis. Stature increase is minimal (though seventeenth century Londoners and modern West Africans are shorter than Colonial to Modern Americans); teeth deteriorate and for cultural reasons fractures increase. Clavicles and forearms elongate. From Old to New World Colonial samples there is a noticeable skull change (and a greater Old World to Modern contrast) but White Colonial to Modern shows strong continuity surprisingly, the key changes being increasing head height, and retraction of face with increasing nose projection, and longer mastoids, resulting from selection and mixture. Blacks change more, possibly from Indian and White mixture. Variabilities are above average. Change is much less than expected, and apparently involves heterosis and selection as well as the obvious health advance and mixtures.[1]


  1. Colonial modern skeletal change in the U.S.A. Angel, J.L. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. (1976) [Pubmed]
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