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Dermatoglyphics of Bushmen (South Africa).

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DERMATOGLYPHICS OF BUSHMEN
(SOUTH AFRICA)
HAROLD CUMMINS
Department of Anatomy, Tulane University, N e w O r l r a u , Louisiana
During his 1950-51 expedition in South Africa, with support of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Martin Gusinde coiiducted studies on several populations. Among Professor
Gusinde ’s records are finger prints and palm prints of Bushmen, which he generously has given to me for analysis and
report.
These records are a significant addition to the gradually
increasing materials for racial comparisons of dermatoglyphics. Bushmen had been known hitherto in this respect only
through one series (Weninger, ’36) that is far too small
(32 subjects, and that reduced by incompletenesses of prints)
to yield stable values. The new collections are larger and,
for the Kun, large enough to yield results of reasonable stability even for comparisons of the sexes. (The form “IGm’’
is used here for simplicity, in preference to the phonetic
spelling, “ ! kun,” in which the “ !” replaces the cerebral
click ; Gusinde, personal communication.)
This note purposes only: to place on record observations
that will admit detailed comparisons with other populations,
using data supplied in the listed references (too extensive
for repetition here); to compare the groups of Bushmen
among themselves, with emphasis on Kun and Barakwhgo
because these two groups are represented by larger numbers.
Only general comments are offered on comparisons with
other populations.
699
700
HAROLD CUMMINS
MATERTALS AND METHODS
Brief accounts of the expedition, giving localities and general observations on the B u s h e n , are available (Gusinde,
'52, '53), and Gusinde has a detailed report in preparation.
The prints were niade in the customary way; each sheet
was marked with the locality, the group namc, the iiaine of
the subject, sex, age and family relationship, if any, to others
in the series.
The numbers of subjects available for the several determinations varied :
Kun
Barakdngo
KBnikwe
HBikom (also
spelled Heikom)
MALX
FEMALE
164-195
4k61
181-217
61-83
3440
20-21
23
li-18
The tables show the number on which each determination
was based. Variation in numbers is due entirely to exclusions
because of imcompleteness or technical faults of the prints.
For example, a subject might be represented by clearly decipherable palmar impressions, on which full data were obtainable, but with lapses in the set of finger impressions
necessitating omission of that individual iu the finger-print
data.
The prints were analyzed by the niethods dcscribcd by Cummins and Midlo ( '43). The data here published are those
considered most critical. A large body of additional data,
that might be useful in further analyses, is nvai1able.l The
supplementary tables, which include separate entries for
males and females of each of the 4 groups and for right and
left sides, list the following frequencies : finger-print types
for individual digits (with whorls divided into three classes :
typical concentric whorls, whorls with double-loop centers,
lateral pockets and twin loops) ; the various configurational
This material, in the forni of mimeographed tables, will be vupplied on request
to the author.
701
BUSHMEN DERMATOGLPPHICS
types (breakdown of the descriptive varieties of patterns
and vestiges) f o r each of the 5 palmar areas; the positions of
termination of each of the 4 palmar main lines ; the types of
axial triradi.
Readers who are not acquainted with the standard comparative procedures in dermatoglyphics should understand
that comparisons are drawn on the basis of group differences
in the frequencies of characteristics that are common to all
peoples. Thus, for example, the finger-print patterns of the
Kun series present a notably low frequency of whorls, 16.1%;
Australian aborigines in Arilhem Land (Cummins and Setzler, '51) stand at the opposite extreme, with whorls amounting to 75.3% of all patterns. The many other populations
that have been studied (see references) present frequencies
at various levels that are largely confined within this range.
OBSERVATIONS
Finger prints (table 1). The outstanding distinction
among the 4 groups is in the low frequency of whorls (16.1%)
and abundant arches (16.2%) in Kun; these incidences, which
are essentially equal to the values reported by Weninger
(15.1% and 16.4% respectively), are at the bottom range
TABLE 1
I'ocewtile freqiiencics o f finger-print types and indcxes based on these frequencies
- ___ _.__
KUN
BARAKW~NGO
KANIKW
R~IKOM
M (164)F (181) M (44) F (61) M (23) F (34) M (17) F ( 2 0 )
Ulnar loops
'{
Arches
4
Pattcrn
intcmity '
Furuhata'
Dankmeijer*
15.1
G8.1
3.8
13.0
17.1
60.7
2.9
19.4
10.21 9.78
26.9
21.0
86.1 113.5
' ([Whorls X 21 + Loops) + 10.
(Whorls + Loops) 100.
' (Arches + Whorls) 100.
30.7
61.4
2.7
5.2
25.9
63.8
0.8
9.6
12.55 11.64
47.9
40.1
16.9 37.1
38.7
51.3
3.0
7.0
32.1
58.5
3.2
6.2
13.17 12.59
71.3 52.0
18.1 19.3
30.6
63.5
3.5
2.4
24.5
61.0
4.0
10.5
12.82
45.7
7.8
11.40
37.7
42.9
702
HAROLD CUMMINS
of known populations. Considering the numbers of subjects,
the variations among Barakwhngo, KBnikwe and Hbikom
are not significant, though Barakwhngo and Hhikom appear
to be closer to each other than is either to KBnikwe. The Kun
series is in sharp contrast to all three groups, which lie in
a range common to a number of populations, some of them
quite unrelated racially.
The well-nigh universal sexual contrast of more abundant
whorls in males is present in Barakwengo but reversed in
Kun, notwithstanding that the usual lower frequency of
arches holds in the latter. In spite of the reversal in Kun, the
arch/whorl index is larger in females of this group, as it
is consistently in the others and in populations generally.
The characteristic bimanual distinction of more abundant
whorls and fewer arches in right hands is evidenced in both
sexes of Kun and Barakwhgo, except that Barakwbngo males
have reversed arch frequencies: right, 676, left 4.5%. This exception is insignificant in view of the smallness of the sample
(44).
Dactylodiagrams of Kun and Barakwhgo constructed by
the method of Poll (seen Cummins and Midlo, ’43) demonstrate a trend in both sexes toward the “rule of all pairs,”
and Kun females definitely conform to that rule.
Palmar corzfigzcratiorzd t y p e s (tables 2-6). The palm has
5 areas which are separately considered. I n each of these
areas the configuration may be a well-defined pattern (e.g.,
a loop), a vestige (suggesting an abortive pattern formation)
o r patternless (i.e., a monotonous system of parallel ridges
lacking the recurvatures or other features that distinguish
patterns and vestiges). Comparisons are drawn on the basis
of frequencies of patterns plus vestiges, as contrasted with the
patternless configurations whose frequencies are indicated in
the implied percentile remainders.
Data for the hypothenar area (table 2) must be viewed
with a reservation. An occasional hypothenar configuration
of the Lr type, the prevailing form in all these groups, has
the head of the loop situated so far dorsally on the ulnar
-_
1.5
29.5
1.4
4.2
28.7 22.7
28.5
30.1 26.9
29.0
32.3 26.7
25.1
3.3
2.4
3.7
19.5
15.9
TABLE 3
23.2
26.8
24.4
33.5
21.3
21.3
23.8
26.2
23.0
8.7
4.3
5.0
20.0
26.3
27.5 25.0
27.5
31.6
30.4
36.9
43.5
34.8 26.1
27.8
38.9 16.7
38.9 16.7
4.8
-
.-
Patterns
+
Vestiges
Patterns
+
Vestiges
Patterns
+
Vestiges
Patterns
Vestiges
___-__.
F
R
26.2
16.4
6.6
12.8
6.1
2.4
1.6 11.5
9.1
12.2
8.5
3.7
L
F (82)
3.7
R
14.8
4.9
L
M (61)
R
____---
49.5
38.2
26.9
14.4 34.3
15.3
L
(216)
12.5
37.2
50.8
36.2
21.5
15.4 37.4
IK (195)
R
L
6.2 13.3
13.0
28.3
29.8
17.4 39.1
13.0 26.1
4.3
L
M (23)
R
25.0
31.3
37.5
12.5 25.0
12.5 12.5
L
F (40)
R
31.8
4.8
4.8
R
9.5
14.3
4.8
9.5
L
F (21)
___-
35.7
38.1 33.3
15.9
38.9
16.7
22.2
5.6
5.6
22.2
M (18)
___
R
L
9.5
33.3 23.8
Prrcrnttle frrqiienoirs of wstiges and true patterns in the palrriar tLmar/first interdigital area
_______
KUN
RABAICW~NQO
IL~NIKWE
HAIKOM
Patterns
+
Vestiges
-___.
Patterns
+
Vestiges
Patterns
+
Vestiges
3.1
29.2
Vestiges
Patterns
TABLE 2
l’ereriilile f reqjtrncirs of ~ e s t i g e sand true patterns in the palmar hgpothenclr area
w
0
i
l
U
M
704
HAROLD CUMMINS
margin that a print of the flat of the palm appears patternless in the hypothenar area. These palm prints were not
rolled to include the ulnar margin, hence it is possible that
a few such L' patterns were missed and erroneously classified as patternless configurations. However, both sexes of
all 4 groups present the typical dextral excess of patterns
and vestiges. The total frequencies are not noteworthy and
the slight differences among the groups must be discounted
in view of the sizes of the samples and the nature of the
prints as just described.
The thenur/first interdigital area (table 3) presents a
striking distinction between Kun and BarakwQngo, with
37.2% and 12.8% as the respective frequencies of patterns
plus vestiges. The Kun frequency stands among the highest
known. J u s t as in the case of finger prints, Rarakwhngo and
H6ikom appear to be more closely related to each other than
is either to KBnikwe. Both sexes of all 4 groups display the
characteristic excess of patterns plus vestiges in left hands.
The second interdigital area (table 4) presents a noteworthy high frequency of patterns plus vestiges in all 4
groups, but their incidence of 33.4% in Kun is considerably
greater than the 21.2% in Barakwhgo. The recognized dextral excess is marked in both sexes of all the groups.
The third interdigital (table 5) presents rather high frequencies, but such are common among varied populations.
Patterns plus vestiges are more frequent in Kun (53.3%)
than in BarahvQngo (45.8%) or the other two groups. As
before, ICBnikwe is less close to BarakwQngo and HBikom
than these two are to each other. The characteristic dextral
excess of patterns plus vestiges prevails in all 8 samples
except KBnikwe females.
The f o u r t h ilzterdigitaz area (table 6) also is featured by
high frequencies of patterns plus vestiges, but again this
occurs in varied populations. The Run frequency (84.4% )
is higher than Barakwengo (71.8%). KBnikwe and HiLikom
are here closer to each other (and to Kun) than is either to
Barakwhgo. The characteristic excess in left hands pre-
L
R
20.5
+
Patterns
Vestiges
+
Patterns
+
Vestiges
9.7
10.6
33.4
28.9
37.5 20.4
17.1
20.4
3.2
-__
7.9
42.1
34.3
-
54.2
66.2
63.0
53.3
38.5
52.3
66.2
33.8
4.6
L
R
L
R
KUN
F (216)
63.6
+
L
M (195)
Patterns
Patterns
R
F (216)
R
L
R
8.2
4.9
13.1
24.6
36.1
13.1
23.0
TABLE 6
21.2
6.1
2.4
3.7
17.7
29.3
9.8
19.5
L
___
F (82)
BARAKW~NGO
M (61)
iik
34.8
17.4
8.7
8.7
L
26.0
17.4
17.4
R
(23)
21.8
25.0
10.0
15.0
R
F
KLNIKWE
17.5
10.0
2.5
7.5
L
(40)
13.1
L
44.3
14.6
L
39.0
45.1 32.9
36.6 18.3
8.5
R
45.8
________
52.5
60.7
55.7 31.1
4.9
R
F (82)
BARAKWBNGO
M (61)
L
34.8
R
30.0
7.5
I,
(40)
17.1
L
50.0
38.9
____
R
I
9.5
A
__
J? (21)
_
-
33.3
38.1
42.9
42.9 23.8
48.2
11.1
58.3
66.7
66.7
R
Y (18) _
~
4.8
4.8
11.9
15.0
19.0
H~IKOM
5.6
5.6
22.2
38.9
11.1
27.8
___-
35.0
32.5 37.5
32.5
37.1
13.0
21.7
59.1
43.5
43.5
R
-__
F
KLNIKWE
(23)
HIIXOM
M (18) _
F (21)
~
_
R
L
R
L
llte palmar secoiid interdigital area
Pcrcentilc frequencies of vestiges and true patterns i n t h e palmar third intcrdtgital area
2.6
Vestiges
27.7
159
11.8
37.9
Vestiges
Patterns
+
Vestiges
Patterns
+
Vestiges
48.2
27.7
Patterns
Patterns
XUN
-_____________._____
(195)
M
Vestiges
Vestiges
4
Percentile fwquencies of cestiges and true patterns
T A U I,>:
c;n
-3
0
_
0
0
k
_
R/L ratio
______
Mean index
._
____
Vestiges
+
Patterns
+
Patterus
Vestiges
Patterns
.
-
_
Y (193)
R
L
~
8.8
~
120
8.99-8.046.69
8.24
R
.
_
_
72.0
TABLE 7
___
78.0
84.1
____
87.0
5.0
90.0
__
L
8.05
125
L
F (83)
R
126
I
_
_
_
8.26
M (60)
R
L
BARAKW~NQO
L
~~
120
7.37
L
L
114
-__
7.70 6.77
7.24
R
F (40)
K~NIKWE
M (23)
R
92.5
87.5
5.0
91.3
85.0
89.2
87.0
87.0
87.0
78.3
61.0 73.2
L
R
F (40)
- -
~ N I K W E
M (23)
R
8.7
L
F (82)
R
11.0 11.0
71.8
_
__
75.4
63.9
11.5
L
(61)
65.6
55.7
50.8
-
4.9
R
BARAKWJ~NQO
The palniar main-line index: nwaiw and rigkt/left rutios
~
-_F (217)
_
85.2
78.7 91.7
XUN
_
9.39 7.34
8.37
__
128
_
84.4
90.3
80.0
7.9
L
F (216)
R
70.8 82.9
XYN
10.3
83.6
76.9
67.7
Patterns
+
9.2
I
A
(195)
M
R
Vestiges
Vestiges
T.iBLE 6
9.22 7.44
8.33
124
M (18)
R
L
90.5
__
85.9
-
L
128
7.71 6.04
6.88
R
F (21)
85.7
76.2 95.2
71.4
4.8
L
F (21)
4.8
HAIKOM
94.4
83.3
11.1
L
R
Hr(IK0P
(18)
86.1
57.7
61.1
16.7
R
l’rrcmtile frequencies of vestiges and true patterns in the palmur fourth intcrdigital a r m
56
0
rJl
4
K
2K
U
?t
707
BUSHMEN DERMATOGLYPHICS
vails throughout except in Kiinikwe males, where the bimanual frequencies are equal.
Palmar main lines (table 7) are useful as an indicator of
the slant of ridges in the distal region of the palm. Group
comparisons are most conveniently made with the use of the
integral value known as the main-line index; its progressively
higher values indicate an increasing degree of transversality.
Combining the sexes, and right and left hands, the seriation
of the indexes is Kun, 8.31 ; Barakdngo, 8.1 6 ; Hgikom, 7.61 ;
TABLE 8
Percentile frequencies of reduction ( X , x ) and absence (0) of palmar main line C
BARAKWSNKI
KUN
-5.1
1.0 5.2
0.5 2.1 0.5 0.5
4.1 9.8 2.8 6.9
1.7 6.7 3.6 6.0
4.3 2.5
1.7 1.7 2.4 1.2
6.7 6.7 7.2 14.5 4.3 4.3 7.5
R
X
x
0
_
_
_
H~IKOM
gANnrWE
M (60)
F (83) M(23)
F (40) M (18) F (21)
_ _ _ _ _ - - - R
L
R
L
R
L
R
L
R
L
R
L
M (193) F (217)
L
R
L
5.0
5.6
7.5
~
5.7 17.1 3.2 12.4 10.0 15.0 13.3 21.7 4.3 8.7 10.0 12.5
7.8
11.4
9.6
17.5
12.5
15.0
6.6
11.3
8.9
5.6
2.8
1.4
KBnikwe, 7.31. Kun, therefore, possesses the highest degree
of transversality. The generally recognized bimanual distinction of greater transversality in right hands appears, as
would be expected, in both sexes of all 4 groups. Reduced to
right-left ratios, an interesting sexual distinction between
Kun and BarakwQngo appears. Ordinarily, the bimanual inequality is less in females, in a degree equal to or approaching that shown in ICun (male, 128; female, 120); in BarakwQngo, however, the difference is leveled or even possibly
reversed (male, 125; female, 126). The possibility here suggested is perhaps strengthened by the finding in Hiiikom
(male, 124; female, 128), a group that has been shown to
resemble B a r a h v h g o more closely than KBnikwe in some
other respects.
708
HAROLD CUMMINS
Reduced states plus absence of Line C (t.able 8) are less
common in Kun (9.6%) than in BarakwGngo (15.0%). The
usual greater incidence in left hands holds in all the groups
and in both sexes of each.
SUMMARY
Finger prints and palmar dermatoglyphics are analyzed
in 4 groups of Bushmen, with comparative emphasis on the
two represented by larger numbers of subjects : Kun, with
observations on 164-195 males and 181-217 females (unlike
numbers being available for the various determinations) ;
BarakwQngo, 44-61 males and 61-83 females.
Kun is distinguished from BarakwQngo in a number of
respects, principally among them : finger prints have fewer
whorls (16.1% VS. 28.3%) and more abundant arches (16.2%
vs. 7.47%); all the configurational areas of the palm present
more frequent patterns plus vestiges - hypothenar 29.0%
vs. 23.5%, thenar/first interdigital 37.2% vs. 12.8%, second
interdigital 33.4% vs. 21.276, third interdigital 53.3% 21.9.
45.8%, fourth interdigital 84.4% vs. 71.8% ; ridge courses
over the distal portion of the palm, as reflected in mainline indexes of 8.31 vs. 8.11; palmar main line C is less frequently suppressed, 9.6% vs. 15.0%.
LITERATURE CITED
CUYYINS,HAROLD,
AND CHARLES
MIDLO 1943 Finger Prints, Palms and Soles:
An Introduction to Dermatoglyphics. The Blakiston Co., Philadelphia.
CUMMINS,
HAROLD,
AND F R A N K M. SETZLER 1951 Dermatoglyphics in Australian
aborigines (Arnhem Land). Am. J. Phys. Anthrop., n.s. 9: 4 5 5 4 6 0 .
DANKMEIJER,
JOHAN 1934 De Beteekenis van Vingerafdrukken voor het anthropologisch Oiiderzoek. Dissertation, University of Utrecht. Utrecht,
L. E. Rosch L Zoon.
1947 Finger prints of African pygmies and Negroes. Am. J.
Phys. Anthrop., 5: 453-484.
FURUHATA,
T. 1927 The difference of the index of finger prints according t o
race. J a p a n Ned. World, 7 : 162-164.
GEIPEL, G. 1948 Die palmare Hentleisten. Hiiiweise nuf die Rassencinordnung
der afrikanischen Bambutiden. I n Urwaldnienschen am Ituri, by
Martin Gusinde, pp. 399-420. Springer, Vienna.
BUSHMEN DERMATOGLYPHICS
709
GUSINDE,M. 1952 Berielit iiber nieine siidafrikanische Forschungsreise, 195051. dnthropos, 47: 388-404.
1953 Anthropological investigations of the Bushmen of South
Africa. Anthrop. Quart., 26: 20-28.
LESCHI,J. 1950 Empreintes digitales et races: Essai de synthhse. L ’Anthrop.,
6 4 : 35-66.
DE LESTRANGE,M.
1953 Les rretes papillaires digitales de 1,491 Noirs
d’Afrique occidentale. Bull. de 1’Inst. frame. d’Afrique noire, 15:
1278-1315.
PONS,JosS 1951 Impresiones derniopapilares en indigenas de la Guinea
Espaiiola en r e l a c i h eon otras poblaciones. I. Muestras dactilares.
Instituto de Estudios Afrieanos, Madrid.
1952 Iuipresiones dermopapilares en estudiantcs universitarios
Barceloneses. Trab. InHt. Bernadino de Sshagdn, 13 : 83-131.
1953a Impresiones dermopapilares en varias poblaciones (Banth
de Natal, Bereberes dc Giado, Garaitns dc Polonia y Danada del
Fezzau). Trab. Inst. Bernadino de Sahagdn, 2 4 : 1-26.
1953b Differentialdiagnose verschiedencr Rassengruppcn nach der
Hsutleistrnanalyse. Homo, 4 : 131-134.
19.54 Impresiones dermopapilares en vascos y relacicin con otras
poblariones. Trab. Inst. Bernadino de Sahagfin, 14: 57-78.
RIFE, DAVIDC. 1953 Finger prints as criteria of ethnic rclationship. Am. J.
Human Genetics, 5: 389-399.
WENIXGER,M. 1936 Untersuchungen iiber das Hautleistcnsystem der Buschmanner. Ein Beitrag zur Stellung dcr Buscl~mannrasse. Mitt. Anthrop. Gesells. in Wien, 66: 30-46.
1953 Der Beitrag des Hautleistensystems zum Pygmiicnproblem.
Zeitschr. f. Morph. u. Anthrop., 45: 207-234.
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