See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Jan 1928:
Vol. 67, Issue 1723, pp. 1-5
DOI: 10.1126/science.67.1723.1


Tropic jungle life has an influence that decreases stature, and so has Arctic cold and waste. In each there is difficulty in procuring proper food, and discomfort in the extreme.

The active life of the temperate zone with its comforts and abundant food supply produces the tallest statures.

The greatest extremes of small stature are found among the Negrillos of Central Africa and the Aymaras of Central South America, in the jungles of excessive heat and poor food supply. Next to these come the Eskimos, Lapps and Siberians, with ice and excessive cold and poor food supply. On the other hand, the littoral and southern Baltic regions in Europe, the western part of Asia, eastern Africa, and the plains and pampas of the Americas with their active life, abundant food supply and temperate climate produce the tallest statures.

Certain stocks may move into areas for which they are not fitted and remain for a time, and such conditions exist throughout the world to-day where recent movements of peoples have taken place, but ultimately there is a survival of the stock best fitted for the environment, and the unfitted stocks disappear by amalgamation, eradication or dispersal.

Sea areas and probably sea food have an influence in reducing stature. The present Mediterranean peoples and the primordial British have small statures and so does Japan, yet they came from taller continental stocks. The Central Americans and Fuegians are smaller than the continental peoples near-by. The Malays and southern Asiaties are smaller than the peoples of the interior of the continent. Other instances might be cited.

There is some evidence that the seaboard statures of the United States are less than those of the interior, but other factors enter here.

Looked at in its broadest sense, environment molds the individual, selection retains the fittest under different environments, and heredity carries on the results.