Maria Enrica Danubio, Emanuele Sanna, Fabrizio Rufo, Domenico Martorella, Elvira Vecchi, Alfredo Coppa
Human Biology 84 (2), 153-167, (1 April 2012) https://doi.org/10.3378/027.084.0204
KEYWORDS: MICROGEOGRAPHIC DIFFERENTIATION, MORPHOMETRIC DISTANCES, HISTORICAL YEMEN
This study analyzed the variations in space of 8 body dimensions and 11 measures of the head of 1,244 adult Yemenite males, collected in 1933/34 by Coon in Yemen and in Hadhramawt. The aim was to evaluate the presence of geographic microdifferentiation of the populations settled in the different regions of Yemen at the time. Coon sub-divided the sample into six geographical areas according to birthplace and ethnicity of the individuals: Tihamah, the Western Mountains, the Central Plateau, the South Coast, the Eastern Mountains, and Hadhramawt. The results of ANCOVA (age as covariate) show that the observed differences of all variables among the six groups were highly statistically significant. Tukey's post-hoc test reveals higher statistically significant differences among four main groups: (1) Tihamah; (2) the Western Mountains and Central Plateau; (3) the Eastern Mountains; and (4) the Southern Coast and Hadhramawt. Multiple discriminant analysis carried out using only the data of the 11 measures of the head, the more “genetically” determined variables, confirmed these differences. Indeed, the first canonical variate well separates the groups with the Tihamah, Southern Coast and Hadhramawt on the one side and the Eastern Mountains, Western Mountains and Central Plateau on the other. The second canonical variate separates the Tihamah, Western Mountains and Central Plateau from the Eastern Mountains, Southern Coast and Hadhramawt. In conclusion, the Yemenite population seems to be composed of three morphologically distinct groups and an Eastern Mountains group which is positioned between the group formed by the Southern Coast and Hadhramawt and the Western Mountains and Central Plateau group. The Tihamah is the most distant from all the other groups. These differences are probably due to the presence/absence of geographical and cultural barriers that have favored/blocked the gene flow over the years. Indeed, the entire coastal bell, through the centuries, has constituted one of the principal commercial routes between the East, Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean, while the high inland mountains have isolated the remaining communities. This data is also confirmed by genetic studies. Finally, the average height (162.6 cm) of the global Yemenite population, compared to data from the other six middle-eastern Arab countries and Egypt, was found to be 3–6 cm less. This characteristic will be further studied, analyzing variations in average height according to the different age classes in order to evaluate any possible secular changes.