Acta genet., Basel 18: 70-77 (1968) Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh The Distribution of Middle Phalangeal Hair Among Gorkhas1 P. K. PARMAR Genetic traits have aroused much interest among anthropologists in view of their value in population studies. The presence of middle phalangeal hair, known in the past as hair on the middle segment of the digits, is one among them. Many investigators (Boyd and Boyd, 1937, 1941; Seicall, 1939; Bernstein and Burks, 1942; Bernstein, 1949; Boyd, 1950; Gam, 1951; Saldanha and Guinsburg, 1961; Dutta, 1964) have shown that there exist variations which are quite striking in character with regard to the middle phalangeal pilosity in various ethnic groups. Danforth (1921) was the first to establish that this trait is genetically determined and the complete absence of middle phalangeal hair is a recessive trait. Exceptions to this ride were, however, put forward by Matsunaga (1956) and Beckman and Book (1959). Thus, the mode of inheritance regarding this trait may be regarded as somewhat obscure. Bernstein and Burks (1942) and Bernstein (1949) had sug gested that the distribution of the middle phalangeal hair is governed by a set of five alleles, having increasing dominance in phenotypes A0, Aj, A2, A3 and A4. The subscript correspond to the number of fingers the alleles cause to be affected. Thus according to them, a person without middle phalangeal hair would be known as A0 pheno type having AnA0 genotype. It is quite evident now that to assess the ethnic variations among different groups of mankind, more and more data have to be collected. Material and Method 1 Gorkhas originally belong to Nepal, but have been contacted for the present study in the Dhauladhar Range of the Kangra District in North-W estern India where they have settled for a number of generations. Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 126.96.36.199 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM A study was conducted on the appearance of middle phalangeal hair in the male population of the Gorkhas of the Dhauladhar Range. P arm ar 71 The presence or absence of hair on the middle phalanges of both hands was observed by means of a hand magnifier. In all 471 adult males were examined for this trait. The data thus obtained have been cate gorized for the purpose of analysis under six sub-groups, namely: Magars (176); Chhetris (108); Gurungs (86); Thakurs (40); Brahmins (28) and low caste groups, grouped into a broad category i.e. Artisan castes (33). The number given in the bracket indicates the number observed in each case. The Gorkhas inhabiting the slopes of the Dhauladhar Range are originally the descendants of emigrants from Nepal. Their ancestors settled in the present habitat in the beginning of eighteenth century and have since then formed a part of the Indian population. The Gorkhas of these ranges are strictly endogamous in the sense that they marry within their own community. Morris (1942) has recognised the following caste groups in Nepal in his book entitled ‘Gorkhas’, namely Thakurs, Chhetris, Magars, Gurungs, Rais, Limbus, and Tamangs and more recently, the same hierarchy has been put forward by Haimendorf (1960). These caste groups are also endogamous within themselves and are further sub-divided into clans and lineages which are exogamous in character. The mating pattern in Gorkhas thus consists primarily in regulating endogamy within community and caste exogamy in clans and lineages. The Gorkhas can thus be said to be a community composed of inbreeding caste groups. In Table I, the frequency distribution of middle phalangeal hair among the different sub-groups of the Gorkha community are shown. The incidence of unaffected as well as affected individuals on each of the four digits of both the hands is also given in the same table. By and large the incidence of the mid-digital hair shows a bilateral sym metry in its occurrence on the two hands in all the sub-groups of Gorkhas. A digit-wise distribution of mid digital hair shows some noteworthy variations such as: (1) The highest incidence is found on digit 4 (28.40%). (2) The incidence shows a gradual decline on both sides of digit 4. The decline, however, is more conspicuous towards the index finger where it touches as low a value as (0.06%) on the 2nd digit. Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 188.8.131.52 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM Observations P arm ar, The Distribution of Middle 72 Table I. Frequency distribution of middle phalangeal hair Phalangeal Hair Sub-groups No. 2 ohs. Left with without Right with without 3 Left with 176 1 175 0.06% 99.94% 107 Chhetris 108 1 0.09% 99.91% Gurungs 86 86 100.00% 40 40 Thakurs 100.00% Brahmins 28 28 100.00% Artisan 33 33 100.00% castes - 1 175 0.06% 99.94% 2 106 1.85% 98.15% 86 100.00% 40 100.00% 28 100.00% 33 100.00% - 35 141 19.88% 80.12% 72 36 33.33% 66.67% 23 53 26.74% 73.26% 12 28 30.00% 70.00% 22 6 21.42% 78.58% 10 23 30.30% 69.70% Magars - - - - - - - - - - - - without Right with without 142 34 19.32% 80.68% 72 36 33.33% 66.67% 23 53 26.74% 73.26% 12 28 30.00% 70.00% 6 22 21.42% 78.58% 10 23 30.30% 69.70% Discussion The data regarding the middle phalangeal hair relating to the Indian population is patchy and rather insufficient to assess the distribution Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 184.108.40.206 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM (3) The incidence of the mid-digital hair on the corresponding fingers of the two hands is found to be similar almost invariably. Thus, no significant bimanual differences are noticed. Table II shows the comparison of frequency of middle phalangeal hair among different Gorkha sub-groups. The Chi-square test shows that the variation is statistically insignificant. This finding is in conformity with historical facts, whereby the origin of the various Gorkha sub-groups can be traced back to a common parental stock and, therefore, are not expected to show any significant geneticdifferences amongst them. As such, for the purposes of comparison with other populations, the data on various sub-groups of Gorkhas have been pooled together under a single heading, which is a fairly good representat ion of the population as a whole. Table III depicts the percentage frequency of individuals ‘without middle phalangeal hair’ in different populations of India. Phalangeal Hair Among Gorklias 73 among different sub-groups of Gorkhas Right with without 126 50 50 126 28.40% 71.60% 28.40% 71.60% 41 67 42 66 38.88% 61.12% 37.96% 62.04% 56 57 30 29 33.72% 66.28% 34.88% 65.12% 24 24 16 16 40.00% 60.00% 40.00% 60.00% 21 21 7 7 75.00% 25.00% 75.00% 25.00% 12 12 21 21 36.36% 63.64% 36.36% 63.64% 5 Left with without 46 130 26.13% 73.87% 34 76 31.48% 68.52% 67 19 22.09",, 77.91% 13 27 32.50% 67.50% 5 23 17.85% 82.15% 11 22 33.33% 66.67% Right with without 46 130 26.12% 73.87% 34 76 31.48% 68.52% 19 65 22.09% 77.91% 12 28 30.00% 70.00% 5 23 17.85% 82.15% 11 22 33.33% 66.67% and variability of this trait. From whatever material is available, it appears that the trait shows a good deal of variation from population to population. This, however, is not unexpected, firstly because there are a number of basic elements forming the substratum of the Indian population (particularly the tribal groups) and, secondly, the presence of a well developed caste system has existed over a long stretch of time and consequently resulted in a good deal of genetic diversity. The variability in the frequency o f‘middle phalangeal hair’ among different Indian populations, ranges from 22.6% to 100.00% (Table III). It is also evident from the table that the bulk of the material comes from the Madhya Pradesh which is a central part of India. The other major portion is contributed by the states of West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura in eastern India. The data from Western and Northern India is represented here only by two studies. The rest of the samples are from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) which are situated in the mid-waters of the Bay of Bengal. The Gorkha population falls near one extreme when the thirtyseven Indian populations on which data are available are arranged in ascending order of the incidence of unaffected individuals with this trait. They show striking similarities with those populations which have a distinct Mongoloid strain. Among the four tribal groups of Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 220.127.116.11 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM Phalangeal Hair 4 Left without with P arm ar, The Distribution of Middle 74 Table I I Comparison of frequencies of middle phalangeal hair among different sub-groups of Gorkhas Sub-group N Phalangeal hair W ith N % W ithout N 0//o Magars Chhetris Gurungs Artisan Castes Thakurs Brahmins 176 108 86 33 40 28 51 42 29 12 17 7 125 66 57 21 23 21 71.02 61.11 66.28 63.64 57.50 75.00 28.98 38.89 33.72 36.36 42.50 25.00 Assam who have Mongoloid affinities, the frequency of unaffected individuals varies from 54% to 80%. The Riangs of Tripura state who are also Mongoloid, however, show an exception in so far as they have a comparatively low incidence of unaffected individuals (35.9%). There is yet another group of Mongoloid origin viz. Chowrite and Terressan of the Nicobar Islands who deviate markedly from the normal Mongoloid trend with this trait by displaying a much smaller fre quency (ranging between 22.6 to 23.5%) in comparison to those of the Mongoloid groups of Northern India. This in all probability is due to the fact that the Nicobarese have remained isolated for a long period and the relatively much smaller incidence of unaffected individuals in them may be the result of genetic drift. The variation in other world populations having a Mongoloid strain with regard to this trait shows a fairly wide range of distribution (be tween 44.9 to 98%). The results available are: Aleutus 44.9% (Garn, 1951); Japanese 58.3% (Matsiinaga, 1956); American Indian (Penobscot) 64% (Danforth, 1921) and Eskimos 98% (Seivall, 1939). To sum up, the proportion of individuals without middle phalangeal hair in the Gorkha population is 66.4% which is within the range of its distribution in the Mongoloid population on the whole. By the standards of its variation in the Mongoloid groups, this incidence is neither very high nor very low. These results also conform to their Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 18.104.22.168 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM Heterogeneity: yf = 5.667, d.f. = 5, 0.50>P>0.30. 75 Phalangeal Hair Among Gorklias Table I II Percentage frequency of individuals without middle phalangeal hair in different populations of India 1. 2. 3. 4. Chowritc Terressan Teli Parsi 5. 6. 7. 8. 34. 35. Chamar Riang Aliir Manjhole Bhatra Rarhi Brahmin Bengali Bengali Kol Bade Bhatra Mahra Gandhabanik Muslim Muslim Eastern Muria Dorla Indian Rajput Duley Nokte Naga Brahmin Dhurvva Gond Mohyal Brahmin Rajhanshi Western Muria San Bhatra Khasi Lushai Northern Dhurwa Tcntuliu Bagdi Gorkhas 36. 37. Mikir Onge 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. Locality Males N % Authors Nicobars Nicobars Madhya Pradesh Bombay and Lucknow Madhva Pradesh Tripura Madhva Pradesh Madhya Pradesh 133 98 27 430 22.6 23.5 29.6 31.2 Ganguli and Pal, 1963 Ganguli and Pal. 1963 Dutta. 1964 Mavalwala, 1957 53 198 26 59 33.9 35.9 38.5 40.7 Dulla. 1964 Kumar and Sastry, 1961 Dulla, 1964 Negi et a l 1963 West Bengal West Bengal West Bengal Madhya Pradesh Madhva Pradesh Madhya Pradesh West Bengal West Bengal Madhva Pradesh Madhva Pradesh Madhva Pradesh Assam Madhva Pradesh West Bengal Assam Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh U ttar Pradesh 191 1538 427 25 106 78 100 203 101 143 123 250 49 143 111 96 167 27 71 41.9 43.2 46.4 48.0 48.1 48.7 49.0 49.3 49.5 51.0 52.8 52.8 53.1 53.8 54.1 54.2 54.5 55.5 56.3 Dhattacharjee, 1956 Biiclii and Dutta. 1955 Biichi, 1954 Dutta, 1964 Negi el al.. 1963 Negi et al.. 1963 Dutta, 1965 Bhattacliarjee. 1956 Dutta, 1964 Negi et al., 1963 Negi et al., 1963 Pakrasi and Das, 1956 Dutta. 1964 Kumar, 1957 Kumar, 1955 Dutta, 1964 Negi el al., 1963 Dutta, 1964 Singh and Dutta, 1955 West Bengal Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Assam Assam Madhya Pradesh 284 148 69 301 125 52 56.7 57.4 57.8 59.5 64.0 65.4 Roy Choudlmry, 1961 Negi et al., 1963 Negi el a l 1963 Mukherjee, 1963 Muklierjee, 1963 Negi et al., 1963 121 66.1 W est Bengal Dhauladhar Range 471 66.4 (Himachal Pradesh) 150 74.0 Assam 35 100.0 Little Andaman Kumar, 1957 Present study Mukherjee, 1963 Biichi and Roy, 1955 Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 22.214.171.124 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM S.No. Population 76 l’arm ar, The Distribution of Middle close proximity to the Mongoloid group with respect to other mor phological and genetical traits. Summary 471 adult Gorkha male subjects were examined for the presence of middle phalangeal hair. The data were analysed under six endogamous sub-groups in order to assess the extent of variation within the Gorkha population. The statistical tests revealed insignificant differences. The incidence of middle phalangeal hair in Gorkhas as a whole was recorded as 33.6%. The frequency of its distribution on various digits showed the highest incidence on digit 4 (28.4%) and the least on digit 2 (0.06%). No significant bimanual differences were observed regarding this trait. A comparative study of middle phalangeal hair distribution in various populations placed Gorkhas in close proximity to other Mongoloid populations with regard to this trait. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My grateful thanks are due to Dr. V. Bhalla,' Lecturer in Physical Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, for having read through the manuscript and for making useful suggestions regarding the analysis of data. 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Downloaded by: Vanderbilt University Library 188.8.131.52 - 10/28/2017 12:13:45 PM Author’» address: Mr. P. K. Parm ar, D epartm ent of Anthropology, Punjab University, Chandigarh 14 (India).