Le Pacifique de 5000 A 2000 avant le present /The Pacific from 5000 to 2000 BP
biological profile of the Polynesian Outlier population on Taumako, excavated by Janet Davidson and Foss Leach in 1977. These burials are dated to about AD 1250-1600. Metrically and morphologically these individuals are very different to Polynesians. They are small in body size with rounded skulls and gracile facial morphology, lacking the Polynesian's large cheekbones, parietal bossing and sagittal keeling. Non-metric evidence however presents a different picture - here the so-called Polynesian markers - shovel-shaped incisors, Carabelli's cusp, rocker jaw, oval-shaped fovea capitis on the femur etc - occur frequently. Genetically, from the few DNA samples taken from this population, they also show Polynesian affinities with 100%frequency of the Asian genetic marker, the 9-bp deletion. This example serves to highlight the problems asso- ciated with choice of methodology and theoretical base, for any biological analysis in the region.
In conclusion this paper has briefly outlined some slightly different approaches for loo- king at the "origins" question in Polynesia such as ungrouping samples, looking at populations outside of Polynesia in order to biologically define Polynesia, and using a combination of methodologies such as genetics and osteological data to enhance research. There are also some factors I believe may be hindering current research, for example inadequate temporal and geographic separation of samples as well as inade- quate definition of biological groupings and their associated phenotypic characteristics.
It has also been argued that continued use of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia as homogeneous biological entities is inappropriate,due to the ill-defined and admixtured nature of these areas. Whether it is possible to divide Oceania into strict biological regions at all is questionable,and it is this broad question that I hope to address in future research.