Understanding the first Floridians

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Price, Sarah E.

Price, Sarah E. 2018. Understanding the first Floridians -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.48, p.27-39


Significant debate continues on the sources and timing of the peopling of the Americas as new materials are discovered and evaluated. Census seems to be Asian origin for early immigrants into the New World, arriving in several waves. We hypothesized that the earliest Floridians would exhibit traits of Asian ancestry and would be homogeneous given the relative contemporaneity of our dataset. To test these hypotheses, we gathered data on skulls from five early human sites in Florida: Bay West (~6830 BP), Little Salt Spring (~6180 BP), Republic Groves (~6520 BP), Warm Mineral Springs (~10500 BP), and Windover (~8120 BP). We measured and analyzed 31 variables and 1 cephalic index to determine ancestry and the presence or absence of unique groups across the sites. Our data show these skulls exhibit traits which support shared Asian ancestry for all five: pronounced supraorbital notches or foramina; wide, flaring mandible; moderately narrow nasal aperture; and broad overall facial shape. An ANOVA suggests four closely related subgroups within our sample (Bay West, Little Salt, Warm Mineral Springs, Republic Groves), and one distinct outlier (Windover) (p=0.076). These results suggest that four populations were quite similar to one another, despite representing the oldest and youngest material. Windover data suggest that those people were also from Asia but may have been separated from the parent population long enough to develop discrete craniofacial morphology. This difference may represent separate immigrations.

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