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New Guinea1

Nature volume 23, pages 175178 | Download Citation



II. THE various accounts of the natives given throughout these volumes leave an impression of vagueness that is very unsatisfactory. The mixture of races in various parts of New Guinea is no doubt great, but we cannot help thinking that there is a well-marked Papuan type, and that its head-quarters are in this great island. Signer D'Albertis seems to attach too much importance to minor peculiarities. He continually mentions small differences in the features, the hair, the form of the skull, or the stature, as implying a radical difference of race, forgetting that such differences are found among every people and in every country, and that on this principle we might establish a dozen different “races”in Europe. Taking the term Papuan in a broad sense as including all the dark-skinned woolly or crisp-haired tribes of the Western Pacific, it seems clear that New Guinea is very largely peopled by this race, and that its north-western peninsulas contain the most typical examples of it. In the south-east however another race is found which may be described as yellow-skinned and smooth-haired, and these are clearly Polynesians or “Mahori,” that is of the same race as the natives of Samoa and New Zealand. In the Fly River and adjacent country both these occur, as well as a mixed race, which D'Albertis seems to think is destined to sup-plant them. He describes these races as follows:—

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