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The term "Mongoloid" (or Oriental, also Mongolic) is an historical racial category used to describe people of East Asia and Southeast Asian origin. Its use originated from a variation of the word "Mongol", a people who are considered one of the main proto-populations for the race. The term is potentially offensive.

Populations included

The term comes from the Mongol people of East Asia, who invaded much of Eurasia during the 13th century, establishing the Mongol Empire.The first usage of the term "Mongolian race" was by Christoph Meiners in a "binary racial scheme" of "two races" with the Caucasian whose racial purity was exemplified by the "venerated... ancient Germans" with some Europeans being impure "dirty whites" and "Mongolians" who consisted of everyone else. The term "Mongolian" was borrowed from Meiners by Johann Blumenbach to describe "second [race], [which] includes that part of Asia beyond the Ganges and below the river Amoor [[[Amur River|Amur]]], which looks toward the south, together with the islands and the greater part of these countries which is now called Australian." Blumenbach, Johann. The Anthropological Treatise of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. London: Longman Green, 1865.

In 1861, Isid Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire added the "Australian" as a "secondary race" (subrace) of the "principal race" of "Mongolian"Deniker, Joseph. The Races of Man: An Outline of Anthropology and EthnographyC. Scribner's Sons: New York, 1900. ISBN 0836959329 In the nineteenth century Georges Cuvier used the term "Mongolian" again as a racial classification, but additionally included American Indians under the term. Arthur de Gobineau defined the extent of the "Mongolian" race, "by the yellow the Altaic, Mongol, Finnish and Tartar branches.""DiPiero, Thomas. White Men Aren't gid/s workDuke University Press, 2002. ISBN 0822329611 Later, Thomas Huxley used the term "Mongoloid" and included American Indians as well as Arctic Native Americans. Other nomenclatures were proposed, such as "Mesochroi" (middle color), but "Mongoloid" was widely adopted.

In the 20th century, Carleton S. Coon used the term and included Pacific Islanders. In 1983, Futuyma claimed that the inclusion of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders under the Mongoloid race was not recognized by "many anthropologists" who consider them "distinct races".Futuyma, Douglas A. Evolutionary Biology. Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, 1983. p. 520 For example, in 1984, Roger J. Lederer Professor of Biological Sciences separately listed the "Mongoloid" race from Pacific islanders and American Indians when he enumerated the "geographical variants of the same species known as races... we recognize several races Eskimos, American Indians, Mongoloid... Polynesian"Lederer Roger J. Ecology and Field Biology. Cummings Publishing Company: California, 1984. ISBN 0-8053-5718-1 p.129.


Bhavan identifies Northeast India Mongoloids to be a subrace called the "Paleo-Mongoloid", being the "dominant element in the tribes living in Assammarker and the Indo-Burmesemarker frontiers... Sikkimmarker, Mizorammarker, Bhutanmarker, Nepalmarker... [and] Tibetan mongoloids"Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The Vedic Age, Vol. 1 (S. Roma-Krishnan and Bhavan Bombay, India 1962) p. 151

In 1900, Joseph Deniker said, the "Mongol race admits two varieties or subraces: Tunguse or Northern Mongolian... and Southern Mongolian" The people of East Asia are called "Northern Mongoloids". Archaeologist Peter Bellwood claims that the "vast majority" of people in Southeast Asia, the region he calls the "clinal Mongoloid-Australoid zone", are "Southern Mongoloids" but have a "high degree" of Australoid admixture. Ainus are considered Southern Mongoloids even though they live in East Asia.Sinodonty and Sundadonty are dentition patterns that correspond to the Northern Mongoloid vs. Southern Mongoloid distinction.

History of the concept

In 1865, Thomas Huxley presented the views of polygenesists of which Huxley was not as "some imagine their assumed species of mankind were created where we find them... the Mongolians from the Orangs."Huxley, Thomas. Collected Essays of Thomas Huxley: Man's Place in Nature and Other Kessinger Publishing: Montana, 2005. ISBN 1417974621

In 1897, WEB DuBois, sociologist and historian, said, "[t]he final word of science, so far, is that we have at least two perhaps three, great families of human beings -- the whites and Negroes, possibly the yellow race [he calls this "Mongolian" later]. The other races have arisen from the intermingling of the blood of these two." Later, there was a "change in his anthropological view", where he postulated "Negroids and Mongoloids are primary, with Caucasoids listed as a type between these, possibly formed by their union, with bleached skin and intermediate hair."Bernasconi, Robert. Race Blackwell Publishing: Boston, 2001. ISBN 063120783X

In 1972, Carleton Coon claimed, "[f]rom a hyborean [sic] group there evolved, in northern Asia, the ancestral strain of the entire specialized mongoloid family."Coon, Carleton S. The Races of Europe. Greenwood: USA, 1972 ISBN 0837163285 p.2 In 1962, Coon believed that the Mongoloid "subspecies" existed "during most of the Pleistocene, from 500,000 to 10,000 years ago".Coon, Carleton S. The Origin of the Races. Knopf: Michigan, 1962. ISBN 0394301420 According to Coon, the Mongoloid race had not completed its "invasions and expansions" into Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands until "[t]oward the end of the Pleistocene" By this time Coon hypothesis that the Mongoloid race had become "sapien".Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari characterize "his [Carleton Coon's] contention [as being] that the Mongoloid race crossed the "sapiens threshold" first and thereby evolved the furthest".

M.K Bhasin's review article (referencing Mourant 1983) suggests that "TheCaucasoids and the Mongoloids almost certainlybecame differentiated from one anothersomewhere in Asia" and that "Another differentiation, whichprobably took place in Asia, is that of theAustraloids, perhaps from a common type beforethe separation of the Mongoloids."

Dr. T. Tirado claims that "many experts" consider American Indians and East Asians to be descended from a "Proto-Mongoloid" population which existed as late as 12,000 years ago.See also: Models of migration to the New World

Futuyma believes the Mongoloid race "diverged 41,000 years ago" from a Mongoloid and Caucasoid group which diverged from Negroids "110,000 years ago".

Peter Brown (1999) evaluates three sites with early East Asian modern human skeletal remains (Liujiang, Liuzhoumarker, Guangxi, China; Zhoukoudianmarker's Upper Cave; and Minatogawa in Okinawamarker) dated to between 10,175 to 33,200 years ago, and finds lack of support for the conventional designation of skeletons from this period as "Proto-Mongoloid"; this would make Neolithic sites 5500 to 7000 years ago (e.g. Banpo) the oldest known Mongoloid remains in East Asia, younger than some in the Americas. He concludes that the origin of the Mongoloid phenotype remains unknown, and could even lie in the New World.

A 2006 study of linkage disequilibrium finds that northern populations in East Asia started to expand in number between 34 and 22 thousand years ago (KYA), before the last glacial maximum at 21–18 KYA, while southern populationsstarted to expand between 18 and 12 KYA, but then grew faster, and suggests that the northern populations expanded earlier because they could exploit the abundant megafauna of the ‘‘Mammoth Steppe,’’ while the southern populations could increase in number only when a warmer and more stable climate led to more plentiful plant resources such as tubers.


Asian types in a book from 1914.
Forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkenson says Mongoloids feature "absent browridges". Skulls belonging to Asians and American Indians exhibit very forward-projecting malar bones and comparatively flat faces, more circular orbits than other groups, and a moderate nasal aperture with a slightly pointed lower margin.Quigley, Christine. Skulls and Skeletons: Human Bone Collections and Accumulations. McFarland: USA, 2001. ISBN 078641068X, 9780786410682 p.16 Moreover, Mongoloid skulls are the most gracile in the human family. It is believed that the Mongoloid skull type is a very recent evolutionary development.Wade, Nicholas. Before the Dawn. Penguin Group: USA, 2006. ISBN 1594200793, 9781594200793 p.120 "The Mongoloid skull has proceeded further than in any other people." "The Mongoloid skull, whether Chinese or Japanese, has been rather more neotenized than the Caucasoid or European." "The female skull, it will be noted, is more pedomorphic in all human populations than the male skull." "Mongoloid races are explained in terms of being the most extreme pedomorphic humans." "The intuition that advanced human development was pedomorphic rather than recapitulationary and accelerated was disturbing to many Eurocentric nineteenth century anthropologists." "If juvenilization was the characteristic for advanced status, then it was clear that the Mongoloid races were more deeply fetalized in most respects and thus capable of the greatest development." "[R]elatively large-headed [is the] mongoloid". "An interesting hypothesis put forward by paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould many years ago was that the package of the Mongoloid anatomical changes could be explained by the phenomenon of neoteny, whereby an infantile or childlike body form is preserved in adult life. Neoteny in hominids is still one of the simplest explanations of how we developed a disproportionately large brain so rapidly over the past few million years. The relatively large brain and the forward rotation of the skull on the spinal column, and body hair loss, both characteristic of humans, are found in foetal chimps. Gould suggested a mild intensification of neoteny in Mongoloids, in whom it has been given the name pedomorphy. Such a mechanism is likely to involve only a few controller genes and could therefore happen over a relatively short evolutionary period. It would also explain how the counterintuitive retrousse [turned up at the end] nose and relative loss of facial hair got into the package."Oppenheimer, Stephen. The Real Eve. Published by Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003ISBN 0786711922

"[D]ecrease unnecessary muscle bulk, less tooth mass, thinner bones and smaller physical size;" this follows the selective adaptive model of Mongoloid evolution."" In Ashley Montagu's list of "[n]eotenous structural traits in which Mongoloids... differ from Caucasoids", Montagu lists "Larger brain, larger braincase, broader skull, broader face, flat roof of the nose, inner eye fold, more protuberant eyes, lack of brow ridges, greater delicacy of bones, shallow mandibular fossa, small mastoid processes, stocky build, persistence of thymus gland into adult life, persistence of juvenile form of zygomatic muscle, persistence of juvenile form of superior lip muscle, later eruption of full dentition (except second and third molars), less hairy, fewer sweat glands, fewer hairs per square centimeter [and] long torso" "Mongoloid subjects were found to have approximately 20% higher bone density at the angle of mandible than Caucasoid subjects."

The Mongolian spot is found frequently in East Asians and Turks. It is also extremely prevalent among East Africans, Polynesians, and Native Americans.


The physical features of the "Proto-Mongoloid" were characterized as, "a straight-haired type, medium in complexion, jaw protrusion, nose-breadth, and inclining probably to round-headedness".Worthington, Elsie. North American Indian Life: Customs and Traditions of 23 Tribes University of Nebraska Press: USA, 1967. ISBN 0-48627-377-6 p. 7 Kanzō Umehara considers the Ainu and Ryukyuans to have "preserved their proto-Mongoloid traits". Sleeboom, Margaret. Academic Nations in China and Japan. Routledge: UK, 2004. ISBN 0-41531-545-X p.56


Geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza claims that there is a genetic division between East and Southeast Asians. In a like manner, Zhou Jixu agrees that there is a physical difference between these two populations. Other geneticists have found evidence for three separate populations, carrying distinct sets of non-recombining Y chromosome lineages, within the traditional Mongoloid category: North Asians, Han Chinese, Southeast Asians, and Japanese. The complexity of genetic data have led to doubt about the usefulness of the concept of a Mongoloid race itself, since distinctive East Asian features may represent separate lineages and arise from environmental adaptations or retention of common proto-Eurasian ancestral characteristics.

The concept originated with a now disputed typological method of racial classification,. All the -oid racial terms (e.g. Mongoloid, Caucasoid, Negroid, etc.) are now often controversial in both technical and non-technical contexts and may sometimes give offense no matter how they are used.American Heritage Book of English Usage. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1996. />. This is especially true of "Mongoloid" because it has also been used as a synonym for persons with Down Syndrome, and in English as a generic insult meaning "idiot". A shortened version of the term, "mong" or "mongo", is also used in the United Kingdom, mainly Scotland. These insults have become common and the majority who use them will have no idea of their racist connotations or connection to the word "mongol". Contrary to popular beliefs, Mongoloid refers to diverse ethnical groups, and not of a homogeneous group.

Since people with Down syndrome may have epicanthic folds, the condition was widely called "Mongol" or "Mongoloid Idiocy" John Langdon Down, for whom the syndrome was named, claimed in his book Observations on the Ethnic Classification of Idiots (1866), that the Mongol-like features represented an evolutionary degeneration when manifested in Caucasoids. The use of the term "Mongoloid" for racial purposes has therefore acquired negative connotations because of the connection with Down syndrome.

See also


  1. For a contrast with the "Europoid" or Caucasian race, see footnote #4 of page 58-59 in Beckwith, Christopher. (2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691135892.
  2. Painter, Nell Irvin. Yale University. "Why White People are Called Caucasian?" 2003. September 27, 2007. [1]
  3. [The End of Racism by Dinesh D'Souza, pg 124]
  4. Huxley, Thomas, On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Mankind. 1870. August 14, 2006.
  5. James Dallas, "On the Primary Divisions and Geographical Distributions of Mankind", 1886 Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, p.204-10. James describes this as "equivalent to Professor Huxley's Mongoloid division" and as encompassing "Mongols and American Indians"
  6. Jim Bindon, University of Alabama, Post WW2 notions about Human Variation
  7. California State University, Chico. "University Catalog." September 28, 2007. 2003.[2]
  8. Ainu Museum. "The Ainu People." 2007. September 26, 2007. [3]
  9. Tirado, T. Millersville University. "When Worlds Collide." 2007. September 27, 2007. [4]
  10. Wilkenson, Caroline. Forensic Facial Reconstruction. Cambridge University Press. 2004. ISBN 0521820030
  11. Montagu, Ashley. Growing Young. Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 1989 ISBN 0897891678
  12. Moxon, Steve. The Eternal Child: An Explosive New Theory of Human Origins and Behaviour by Clive Bromhall Ebury Press, 2003.
  13. Grossinger, Richard. Embryogenesis. Published by North Atlantic Books, 2000 ISBN 155643359X
  14. Carnby. Carnby’s Physical Anthropology Website. Distribution of Bodily Characters. 2008. Accessed August 11, 2008.
  15. Ong. R.G. Evaluation of bone density in the mandibles of young Australian adults of Mongoloid and Caucasoid descent. PubMed. 1999. Accessed September 10, 2008.
  16. The Chinese Human Genome Diversity Project, L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza
  17. The Rise of Agricultural Civilization in China, Sino-Platonic Papers 175, Zhou Jixu, citing Ho Ping-ti, ISBN 0226345246
  18. TAJIMA Atsushi, PAN I.-Hung, FUCHAROEN Goonnapa, FUCHAROEN Supan, MATSUO Masafumi, TOKUNAGA Katsushi, JUJI Takeo, HAYAMI Masanori, OMOTO Keiichi, HORAI Satoshi, "Three major lineages of Asian Y chromosomes: implications for the peopling of east and southeast Asia," Human Genetics 2002, vol. 110, no1, pp. 80-88
  19. Encyclopedia Britannica, Mongoloid
  20. O'Neil, Dennis. Palomar College. "Biological Anthropology Terms." 2006. May 13, 2007. [5]
  21. Does Race Exist? A proponent's perspective by George W. Gill.
  22. Down Syndrome Was Not Discovered By Dr. Down
  23. Ward, Connor O. John Langson Down the man and the message. 2006. August 26, 2006

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