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Australoids include Australian Aborigines, highland New Guineans, and some Melanesians (who inhabit the Melanesian islands close to Australia). The term derives from the Australian Aborigines and has sometimes been used as a synonym for Australian Aborigines. More generally, various populations in Southeast Asia and India have sometimes been argued to be more or less Australoid.


Thomas Huxley first coined the term "Australioid" in his On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind (1870). By the end of the 19th century, it was spelled just Australoid, without the additional "i".

Race history

The Australoids have been argued to be descendants of an early wave of human migration out of Africa. They were later displaced/killed/intermixed in many areas by later waves of human migrations. As such, they are distinct from groups such as East Asians and Caucasians and have often been considered to be a major human race, despite their population size being relatively small. Another characteristic is the interbreeding with the Denisovans, an older archaic human group.

A 2013 study stated that: "The Australian continent holds some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the expansion of modern humans out of Africa, with initial occupation at least 40,000 y ago. It is commonly assumed that Australia remained largely isolated following initial colonization, but the genetic history of Australians has not been explored in detail to address this issue. Here, we analyze large-scale genotyping data from aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians and Indians. We find an ancient association between Australia, New Guinea, and the Mamanwa (a Negrito group from the Philippines), with divergence times for these groups estimated at 36,000 y ago, and supporting the view that these populations represent the descendants of an early “southern route” migration out of Africa, whereas other populations in the region arrived later by a separate dispersal. We also detect a signal indicative of substantial gene flow between the Indian populations and Australia well before European contact, contrary to the prevailing view that there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world. We estimate this gene flow to have occurred during the Holocene, 4,230 y ago. This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India."[1]

See also the article on Negritos.

A small Australoid admixture has been found in some Amerindians, as discussed in the Amerindians article.

Physical traits

Australoid from Coon's The Living Races of Man (1965)

Huxley described the physical traits of Autraloids as "The males of this type are commonly of fair stature, with well-developed torso and arms, but relatively and absolutely slender legs. The colour of the skin is some shade of chocolate-brown; and the eyes are very dark brown, or black. The hair is usually raven-black, fine and silky in texture; and it is never woolly, but usually wavy and tolerably long. The beard is sometimes well developed, as is the hair upon the body and the eyebrows. The Australians are invariably dolichocephalic, the cranial index rarely exceeding 75 or 76, and often not amounting to more than 71 or 72. The brow-ridges are strong and prominent, though the frontal sinuses are in general very small or absent. The norma occipitalis is usually sharply pentagonal. The nose is broad rather than flat; the jaws are heavy, and the lips remarkably coarse and flexible. There is usually strongly marked alveolar prognathism. The teeth are large, and the fangs usually stronger and more distinctly marked than in other forms of mankind. The outlet of the male pelvis is remarkably narrow."[2]

IQ, visual memory, and brain differences

Richard Lynn (2006) states that several studies show that Australian aborigines have a low average IQ of 62 and a small average brain size. Other studies have found similar results for New Guinean aborigines.[3]

See also the article Other race differences and the sections on "Visual memory" and "Brain anatomy".

Culture and behavior

Several of the early British explorers and anthropologists who studied the Australian Aborigines stated a low level of intelligence. The language was limited in vocabulary (for instance, no word for thumb), lacked numbers except one and two, was lacking in abstract concepts, and was poor in collective nouns, which was argued to be indicative of an inability to formulate general concepts. Their lifestyle was described as primitive stone age hunter-gatherering and lacking in pottery, metal work, domesticated animals, storage of food for future consumption, the bow and arrow, and well-developed group hunting techniques.[4]

The Tasmanian Aborigines (inhabitants of the island Tasmania close to Australia) are now extinct, except for some mixed-race descendants. They were described as having an even lower level of cultural development, with examples being that they are the only known people who never discovered how to make fire and that they never invented the stone spear or stone axe.[4]

Map of the Austronesian expansion, showing the colonization of the islands of the Pacific Ocean and the island of Madagascar.

The Australoids used now vanished land bridges in order to migrate to New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania. In contrast, the Austronesian, who arrived later, were unlike the Australoids able to make extensive ocean journeys between islands and populate the whole Pacific.

See also Race and morphology/physiology: Skull thickness on Australoids being reported to have the largest skull thickness of all human groups, argued to be related to violent methods for resolving conflicts.

Today, Australian Aborigines, as compared to Europeans, have been reported to have much higher crime rates, higher prevalence of various forms of substance abuse (including petrol sniffing), higher unemployment, lower earnings, and a high fertility rate.[4]

A sociologist in 1986 noted that Europeans had built house for the Aborigines in central Australia but

the Aborigines do not accept these houses with the result that are usually unoccupied. Many of them have been deserted, vandalized, or even destroyed. In order to prevent the Aborigines destroying their houses, they are now prefabricated out of steel-plated units. Most of the inhabitants live in self-constructed shacks made from branches or sheets of corrugated iron, erected outside of and around the settlement. They have not accustomed themselves to garbage disposal with the result that the surrounding bush land is littered with old cans, bottles, tires, transistor radios, and batteries. Rusty car bodies and unauthorized garbage dumps can be seen everywhere... The health, education, and living standards are well below the Australian average. Almost all the inhabitants are unemployed and fully dependent on social security. They just sit around in a state of boredom and hopelessness. They do not send their children to school. The Aborigines have no problem operating machines or driving cars and tractors, but they have not learned how to service and repair them. Faulty machinery is simply left where it breaks down and transistor radios are thrown away when batteries are flat. Under the supervision of whites they are able to establish a plantation or a cattle station and will work there, but as soon as this supervision and instruction is withdrawn the project collapses.[4]

Guns, Germs, and Steel

The influential book Guns, Germs, and Steel argued that the low cultural development of the Australoid was due to geographic factors, such as lack of domesticable animals, poverty of domesticable plants, and unfavorable soils and climate. The Jewish author Jared Diamond even stated in the prologue that the New Guineans "impressed me as being on the average more intelligent, more alert, more expressive, and more interested in things and people around them than the average European or American". The book made no mention of the studies showing the low average IQ. The argument has also been criticized, with there being several domesticable plants in Australia (yams, taro, and arrowroot and two indigenous wild grasses that could have been bred to produce cereals). The dingo (wild dog) and the kangaroo could have been domesticated. Captive dingos were sometimes used for some functions, but despite this never properly domesticated. The climate has been argued to be very varied and apart from the central deserts potentially suitable for agriculture, as proven by current agriculture introduced by Europeans.[3][4]

External links


  1. Pugach, Irina; Delfin, Frederick; Gunnarsdóttir, Ellen; Kayser, Manfred; Stoneking, Mark (2013) "Genome-wide data substantiate Holocene gene flow from India to Australia". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 29;110(5):1803-8
  2. T. H. Huxley. On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind. Journal of the Ethnological Society of London (1870). Scientific Memoirs III.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lynn, Richard. (2006). Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis. Augusta, GA: Washington Summit Publishers.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Richard Lynn. The Global Bell Curve. 2008. Washington Summit Publishers.