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Melungeon traits - the facts
Posted by: Steve Williamson Date: February 04, 2002 at 05:28:12
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"Anatolian Bump": Look at "Gray's Anatomy" (all libraries should have a copy) & go to the section on the skull (pages 56-57 of the unabridged Running Press reprint edition). That feature is not unique to Anatolian populations. Lots of people have it. It has several different names, but you won't find it called an "Anatolian Bump" except on Melungeon web pages. Its name in Gray's is "external occipital protuberance." Other books on anatomy or anthropology call it by other names. Some people simply have larger protuberances than others - having it doesn't prove you're of a particular ancestry. For more info, see, for example: "The Human Career" by Richard Leslie Aiello, 1999; "Human Evolutionary Anatomy" by Christopher Dean, 1990; and "Skull Shapes and the Map" by William W. Howells, 1989.

Six fingers: Being born with 6 fingers is not a feature exclusive to Melungeons. It has been noted in many places, among people of diverse genetic background. For example, many Pennsylvania Amish people (of German descent) have been born with this. It appears that they are all descendants of one man, Samuel King. It also appears in West Africa, for example in Ghana. (See: pp 124,226 of "The Language of Genes" by Steve Jones, 1994.)

"Shovelled incisors": AKA "Sinodonty" (literally, "Chinese Teeth") really is a feature found among many (but not all) American Indians, Chinese, Mongols, Koreans, and occasionally among Europeans (& not necessarily because of "Mongol" invaders!). Forensics specialists use it as one indicator of such ancestry. Does that mean that Melungeons are basically Indian? No, not necessarily, because many of the people now calling themselves Melungeons who have this feature may not really be descended from people called Melungeons in the past. Some of the people who post to forums like this may actually be of American Indian descent, and have decided to self-identity as Melungeons because they've read that 'if you have scooped-out front teeth, might be a Melungeon.' Also, I suspect that many people are misunderstanding what shovelled incisors really are like - some of the descriptions on Melungeon sites are a bit misleading. In any case, I don't think anyone is saying that there's absolutely zero 'Indian blood' in Melungeons, but the bulk of the evidence seems to point to that being a lesser component than African for most families known in the past by that or similar terms.

Wooly Hair: Hmmmm....what dark-skinned people that have been living in America since the 1600s have wooly hair?? Hmmm...lemme think...

"Vampire Teeth"???: Good grief, where did THAT come from?

The list of so-called "Melungeon traits" is based on hearsay. No one has shown that a particular set of traits like these are statistically more common among proven Melungeon descendants than among the general US population. You can't count people who DECIDE they are Melungeon BECAUSE they have pointy teeth & a bump on their noggin.

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