American Journal of Physical Anthropology
The genetic divergence of prehistoric populations of the south-central Andes as established by means of craniometric traits
Héctor H. Varela et al.
The peopling of the south-central Andean region can be determined by exploring a combination of cultural, economic, and biological factors that influence the structure of populations and determine particular dispersals of gene frequencies. Quantitative characters from 1,586 adult crania of both sexes from northern Chile, northwestern Argentina, and the Cochabamba valleys in Bolivia were analyzed employing multivariate statistical analyses. Biological distances, representing phenotypic variation between these regions and their subregions, were studied within a population genetics framework. An analysis of Mahalanobis D2 distances establishes two principle directions of interaction: the first between the Cochabamba valleys and northern Chile, and the second between the Cochabamba region and northwestern Argentina. The Chile and Argentina regions are shown to be less related to each other than each is to the Bolivian region. A higher mean genetic divergence is found for the entire region (FST = 0.195); with northwestern Argentina having the highest spatial isolation (FST = 0.143) and northern Chile the lowest (FST = 0.061). These results allow us to propose a populating model based on the dispersion of several lines from a common ancestral population similar to those who inhabited the Cochabamba valleys. These lines differentiated themselves in time and space according to the effective size and the rate of gene flow, eventually producing the human groups which inhabited the valleys of northern Chile and northwestern Argentina.