Wednesday, April 06, 2011


More on Pygmies and ultraviolet light

I have blogged before about the theory I published years ago - that Pgymies and Negritoes have short stature because of a shortage of ultraviolet light in the rainforest. Low ultraviolet light might mean low vitamin D production in the skin and therefore low ability to take up calcium for bone growth.

Since then, there have been a number of developments. An essential part of my theory, obviously, is that ultraviolet light levels in the rainforest are indeed low. I measured them some time ago, and I have cited the low levels at my blog here. These results were originally published in the Australian Society for Human Biology Newsletter, but they are no longer available online. However a good set of data, showing the same very low ultraviolet (UV-B) levels I found, again from North Queensland, have been reported more recently by Frances Baines:


She measured ultraviolet light in the Daintree Rainforest. I measured values near Kuranda, inland from Cairns. Frances Haines seems to be quite a busy woman, with a special interest in ultraviolet light and reptiles. She is affiliated with The Citizen Scientist group:


Another nice reference to my ideas on Pygmies, Negritos and the "Australian Pygmy" tribes from the Queensland rainforests was that given my work by Peter Hiscock, the noted archaeologist, and his colleague Michael Westaway:


It was interesting to see my work cited in such a politically charged atmosphere.

My theory on Pygmy stature also got a run in Peter McAllister's recent popular book, "Pygmonia":


although the author ends up favouring a life cycle theory to explain Pygmy stature. The book is a good read though.

Finally, it was strange to find my ideas on the adaptive function of African lips in signalling health referred to in a peculiar, racist book:


Julian O'Dea

(the person who "signs" these posts, Karna O'Dea, is my wife, because the computer account seems to be in her name.)


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