Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (03): 342-358.doi: 10.16359/j.1000-3193/AAS.2022.0049

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Phenotypic characteristics of the head and face of Chinese Altaic-speaking peoples

ZHANG Xianpeng1(), WEN Youfeng1(), LI Wenhui1, LI Xin1, QU Quanying1, XU Guochang2   

  1. 1. Institute of Biological Anthropology, Jinzhou Medical University, Jinzhou 121000
    2. Institute of Anthropology, Nanyang Institute of Technology, Nanyang 473000
  • Received:2021-11-30 Revised:2022-03-14 Online:2023-06-15 Published:2023-06-13


In this study, we investigated 14 cephalo-facial anthropometric indices of 3622 samples (male 1611, female 2011) in eight different Altaic-speaking populations including the Man, Oroqen, Ewenki, Hezhen, Kirgiz, Tatar, Kazak and Daur, which are from four different provinces and autonomous regions in China. In order to explore population structure and affinity of these populations, this study cited nine published datasets for the Uygur, Uzbek, Salar, Yugur, Mongol, Bonan, Dongxiang, Tu and Xibe to construct a cephalo-facial anthropometric database of Chinese Altaic-speaking populations with 6217 individuals (male 2921, female 3296). Through cluster analysis, we constructed phylogenetic trees for 17 ethnic groups within three language groups in the Altaic language family. Based on cephalo-facial anthropometric values, we found population structures were the same between different genders. There were also similar cephalo-facial phenotypes between different populations of the same language group, and significant admixture between populations from different language groups. Mongolic-speaking populations distributed closely than other Altaic speakers, as these speakers shared similar cephalo-facial characteristics. We also found regional differences in the cephalo-facial characteristics of the Daur and Kirgiz populations. This may be attributed to different population admixture and lifestyles, and it reminded us that similar populations in different regions exhibit different phenotypes. Therefore, we conclude that research of phenotypes should be carried out in different regions. In this study, there were correlations between latitude and bigonial breadth, nose breadth, mouth breadth and ear length, but a correlation was not found between longitude and cephalo-facial indices. This study provides evidence for complex population admixture history of Altaic-speaking populations, and illustrates phylogenetic relationships of different populations based on cephalo-facial criteria. The results of this study show that populations of the same language group may have a common origin, and that there is a complex population exchange and admixture history in Altaic-speaking populations. Due to limited anthropometric indices and sample size, it is still unclear of the exact nature of the population structure, migration and admixture history of Altaic-speaking populations.

Key words: Cephalo-face, Altai, Language group, Population structure, Admixture

CLC Number: