Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

The Utility of Cladistic Analysis of Nonmetric Skeletal Traits for Biodistance Analysis

Reed, James Christopher (2006) The Utility of Cladistic Analysis of Nonmetric Skeletal Traits for Biodistance Analysis. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (12MB) | Preview


A significant focus of bioarchaeology is biodistance analysis, which seeks to determine the biological affinities of human groups and to support arguments about prehistoric and historic cultural topics, such as migration, marriage, and residential patterns. Although genetic comparisons are becoming more common, metric and nonmetric skeletal traits remain the primary source of information on human populations.Biodistance analysis is grounded theoretically and methodologically in phenetics, which is an approach developed by systematists to group organisms on the basis of overall similarity. However, while phenetics was adopted by physical anthropologists and bioarchaeologists as the foundation of biodistance analysis, systematists have long since moved away from phenetic approaches for determining relatedness to hypothetico-deductively based cladistic analyses. It is time for physical anthropologists and bioarchaeologists engaged in biodistance analysis do so as well.It is perhaps an irony that biodistance analysis, which seeks to delineate the biological relationships of group, begins by defining the groups (samples) on the basis of archaeological, cultural, or linguistic information prior to any morphological/biological comparison. However, the delineation and comparison of groups should be based from the beginning on the biology (morphology) of individuals and then of groups and, more specifically, on unique biological features, not cultural or linguistic criteria. A cladistic analysis can provide a biologically based delineation of groups.In this study I investigate whether unique, nonmetric characters can be delineated for small groups such as those traditionally the focus of biodistance analysis and, thus, whether cladistic analysis is an appropriate substitute for the phenetic approach in biodistance analysis. Four samples of skeletal material were examined. One, the Spitalfields collection, consists of burials of individuals whose familial relationships are well documented. The other samples are undocumented and compared to the Spitalfields sample in an attempt to delineate unique characters that might define groups.The result was that no unique characters could be delineated, which means that cladistic analysis, while perhaps applicable to study of higher-level groups within the species, fails at the population level. Consequently, while unsatisfactory, biodistance analysis must continue to rely on abiological criteria for defining populations.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reed, James Christopherjcrst31@pitt.eduJCRST31
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSchwartz, Jeffrey Hjhs@pitt.eduJHS
Committee MemberBermann, Marc Pbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberMooney, Mark Pmpm4@pitt.eduMPM4
Committee MemberSiegel, Michael Isiegel@pitt.eduSIEGEL
Date: 5 June 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 17 April 2006
Approval Date: 5 June 2006
Submission Date: 18 April 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: bioarchaeology; biodistance; cladisitcs; human skeletal material; nonmetric traits; osteological comparison; osteology; phenetics; Spitalfields
Other ID:, etd-04182006-191614
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item