Variability in Race Hybrids

Variability in Race Hybrids

American Anthropologist
Volume 40, Issue 4 (October-December 1938)
pages 680–697
DOI: 10.1525/aa.1938.40.4.02a00090

Wilson D. Wallis

In his revised edition of The Mind of Primitive Man, Professor Boas warns against assuming “on the basis of a low variability that a type is pure, for we know that some mixed types are remarkably uniform. This has been shown for American Mulattoes, Dakota Indians, and made probable for the city population of Italy.” In a footnote to that passage he refers to the studies of Herskovits, Sullivan, and Boas, respectively, presumably in support of this position. Inasmuch as the test of variability used in those studies is the standard deviation of dimensions, and, for reasons which I shall indicate, this is not an acceptable test of variability for this purpose, it seems proper to reexamine the data on variability of race hybrids.

Although several studies have been devoted to the results of race crossing, there are few definitive results. Some studies suggest hybrid vigor, that is, increase in dimensions over one or both parental strains. Other studies indicate that race hybrids are inferior to one or both parental strains. Some indicate that hybrids are less variable than parental strains; others, that they are more variable. The character of the results may, of course, depend upon the races crossed and upon proximity to original crossing; but on these matters there is little well attested information. Sullivan and Boas find half-breeds among Sioux and other groups taller than pure bloods among each sex. Wissler, in a series of Oglala Dakota, finds half bloods slightly shorter than full bloods. As Sullivan remarks: “No satisfactory solution of these contradictory results can be given so long as our series are incomplete in lacking the measurements on the whites with whom the Indians have mixed.” When all the data are considered, it is not clear that in race crossing any physical trait behaves as a Mendelian recessive or dominant-despite portrayals in fiction. In Hawaiian-European hybrids in Hawaii, however, Dunn finds evidence that the brachycephaly of Hawaiians is inherited as a dominant, and the European type of head (? dolchocephaly) reappears as a recessive in later hybrid generations. Hawaiians are said to contribute to the cross relatively more dominant factors than do Europeans. He finds evidence, also, of “segregation of ‘racial’ characters such as nose form, hair form, hair and skin color in diverse combinations in the F and backcross generation.” There is, however, no evidence of Mendelian inheritance in the ratios with which these traits occur, and no evidence of Mendelian inheritance of a cluster of traits…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,