9685 - Patterns of Holocene Human Diversification in Fuego-Patagonia

Historical and ethnographic accounts refer to the existence of basically two different hunter-gatherer lifeways in the southern extreme of South America at the time of the European arrival, namely terrestrial and maritime (canoeists) hunter-gatherers. The archaeological evidence, however, suggests that this picture does not capture the overall diversity that seems to have been existed in the past. Having this in mind, the aim of this paper is to assess the degree to which the ecological and phenotypic diversification experienced by Holocene human populations from Fuego-Patagonia can be considered the result of a true adaptive radiation. To achieve the proposed goal, I will proceed to describe the main criteria used by evolutionary biologists to establish the adaptive or nonadaptive character of ecological and phenotypic diversification; discuss the extent to which this problem can be archaeologically approached; and search for evidences of phenotypic and ecological diversification of past human populations at the southernmost extreme of South America.

Keywords: Fuego-Patagonia, Holocene, hunter-gatherers, adaptive radiation

Author: Barrientos, Gustavo (Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina / Argentinien)


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