Biodistances Among Mexica, Maya, Toltec, and Totonac Groups of central and Coastal Mexico

Heather HJ Edgar, Catherine M Willermet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Migration patterns in pre-European contact Mexico were complex. Studies using dental morphological data have successfully detected microevolutionary patterns of biological affinity between local populations in other areas of the world. We compare Classic and Postclassic dental samples from four cultural groups from adjacent regions in Mexico to illuminate local population differences among the Toltecs, Mexica, Totonacs, and Maya. We calculated pseudo Mahalanobis D2 distances using observations of 12 dental traits to compare models for how culture group, geography, and time may have structured interpopulation relationships. Cluster analysis and principal components analyses of pairwise population distances suggest that phenetic similarities best reflect differences among cultural groups. Additionally, dental morphological trait data are robust with regard to interobserver error and sensitive enough to detect phenetic distance over relatively small time and space dimensions in Mexico. These results encourage expanding the study to more sites, regions, and temporal periods, and augurs well for future investigations that seek to trace past migration patterns in Mexico.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-459
JournalChungará Arica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013


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