Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Noriko Seguchi

Commitee Members

Randall Skelton, Richard Bridges


Alaska, Climatic Adaptation, Human Variation, Osteology, Remote Oceania


University of Montana


This project is an attempt to re-examine the “Pacific Paradox”, as proposed by Philip Houghton (1996), through various morphological measurements on two climatically different populations, Alaskan Eskimo and Pacific Island groups. The “Pacific Paradox” has been widely discussed, but research using direct comparisons between this Pacific population and cold climate groups has received little attention. The methods employed are those preformed by Ruff (1994), Ruff et al (1991, 2004, 2005) and Houghton (1996) to create the most accurate determination of overall body form in both populations. Eight measurements were used to construct variables to create an accurate portrayal of overall body shape. These measurements were taken on Alaskan Eskimo populations spread throughout the entire region of Alaska and on Polynesian populations from a wide variety of Pacific Islands. The overall comparisons demonstrate similarities in the two body mass estimations; the bi-iliac breadth measurement and maximum femoral head diameter, and in the overall stature to body mass ratios, except in the males, who are significantly different in every measurement apart from surface area to body mass ratios and stature to body mass ratios. Further studies on each population were conducted to determine the role of latitude or isolation factors on each population. Interestingly, the Alaskan group did not follow the stereotypical trend of cold climate adaptation based on latitude. In the female groups, the females from the lowest latitude had the lowest surface area to body mass ratios followed by the highest latitude group. The male groups followed the stereotype with the highest latitude group having the lowest surface area to body mass ratio but interestingly, the group from the lowest latitude had the next lowest ratio. Polynesian results illustrated somewhat similar body proportions throughout the region with only a few exceptions. Meanwhile, several individuals measured from the Polynesian collection could be considered part of Melanesia. Migration patterns, founder effect through disease frequencies, nutritional effects and cultural traits along with many other issues are presented when examining the similarities and differences the Polynesian population has in comparison to both the Alaskan group and the small Melanesian sample.



© Copyright 2006 Wendy Nicole Leach