Genetically, Negritos are the most distant human population from Africans at most loci studied thus far (except for MC1R, which codes for dark skin).
They have also been shown to have separated early from other Asians, suggesting that they are either surviving descendants of settlers from an early migration out of Africa, commonly referred to as the Proto-Australoids or Negroids, or that they are descendants of one of the founder populations of modern humans.
The word "Negrito" is the Spanish diminutive of negro, i.e., "little black person", referring to their small stature, and was coined by early European explorers.
Occasionally, some Negritos are referred to as pygmies, bundling them with peoples of similar physical stature in Central Africa, and likewise, the term Negrito was previously occasionally used to refer to African Pygmies.
Many on-line dictionaries give the plural in English as either 'negritos' or 'negritoes', without preference. The plural in Spanish is 'negritos'.
Alternatively, some scientists[who?] claim they are merely a group of Australo-Melanesians who have undergone island dwarfing over thousands of years, reducing their food intake in order to cope with limited resources and to adapt to a tropical rainforest environment.
A number of features would seem to suggest a common origin for the Negritos and African pygmies, especially in the Andamanese Islanders who have been isolated from incoming waves of Asiatic and Caucasoid peoples. No other living human population has experienced such long-lasting isolation from contact with other groups.
These features include short stature, very dark skin, woolly hair, scant body hair and occasional steatopygia. The claim that Andamanese pygmoids more closely resemble Africans than Asians in their cranial morphology in a study of 1973 added some weight to this theory, before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with Asians.
Multiple studies also show that Negritos from Southeast Asia to New Guinea share a closer cranial affinity with Australo-Melanesians. Further evidence for Asian ancestry is in craniometric markers such as sundadonty, shared by Asian and Negrito populations.
It has been suggested that the craniometric similarities to Asians could merely indicate a level of interbreeding between Negritos and later waves of people arriving from the Asian mainland. This hypothesis is not supported by genetic evidence that has shown the level of isolation which populations such as the Andamanese have experienced. However, some studies have suggested that each group should be considered separately, as the genetic evidence refutes the notion of a specific shared ancestry between the "Negrito" groups of the Andaman Islands, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines.
A study on blood groups and proteins in the 1950s suggested that the Andamanese were more closely related to Oceanic peoples than Africans. Genetic studies on Philippine Negritos, based on polymorphic blood enzymes and antigens, showed they were similar to surrounding Asian populations. Genetic testing places all the Onge and all but two of the Great Andamanese in the mtDNAHaplogroup M found in East Africa, East Asia, and South Asia, suggesting that the Negritos are at least partly descended from a migration originating in eastern Africa as much as 60,000 years ago. This migration is hypothesized to have followed a coastal route through India and into Southeast Asia, which is sometimes referred to as the Great Coastal Migration.
Analysis of mtDNA coding sites indicated that these Andamanese fall into a subgroup of M not previously identified in human populations in Africa and Asia. These findings suggest an early split from the population of migrants from Africa; the descendants of these migrants would eventually populate the entire habitable world.Haplogroup C-M130 and haplogroup D-M174 are believed to represent Y-DNA in the migration.
A recent genetic study found that unlike other early groups in Malesia, Andamanese Negritos lack the Denisovan hominin admixture in their DNA, while other Negrito groups may show some varying degree of Denisovan ancestry. Denisovan ancestry is found among indigenous Melanesian and Australian populations between 4-6%
Negritos may have also lived in Taiwan, where they were called the "Little Black People". Apart from being short-statured, they were also said to be broad-nosed and dark-skinned with curly hair. The little black population shrank to the point that, up to 100 years ago, only one small group lived near the Saisiyat tribe. A festival celebrated by the Saisiyat gives evidence to their former habitation of Taiwan. The Saisiyat tribe celebrate the black people in a festival called Pas-ta'ai.
According to James J.Y. Liu, a professor of comparative literature, the Chinese term Kun-lun (崑崙) means Negrito.
Snow, Philip. The Star Raft: China's Encounter With Africa. Cornell Univ. Press, 1989 (ISBN 0801495830)
Kashyap, VK, Sitalaximi, T, Sarkar, BN, Trivedi, R (2003), "Molecular relatedness of the aboriginal groups of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with similar ethnic populations" (PDF), The International Journals of Human Genetics3: 5–11.
William Marsden (1834). "On the Polynesian, or East-Insular Languages". Miscellaneous works of William Marsden. Pub. for the Author by Parbury, Allen. p. 4.
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, 1910–1911: "Second are the large Negrito family, represented in Africa by the dwarf-races of the equatorial forests, the Akkas, Batwas, Wochuas and others..." (pg. 851)
"The Free Dictionary".
^ Getting Here: The Story of Human Evolution, William Howells, Compass Press, 1993
^ Thangaraj, Kumarasamy; et al. (21 January 2003), "Genetic Affinities of the Andaman Islanders, a Vanishing Human Population", Current Biology, 13, Number 2: 86–93(8), doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(02)01336-2, PMID 12546781Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
David Bulbeck; Pathmanathan Raghavan and Daniel Rayner (2006), "Races of Homo sapiens: if not in the southwest Pacific, then nowhere", World Archaeology (Taylor & Francis) 38 (1): 109–132, doi:10.1080/00438240600564987, ISSN 0043-8243, JSTOR 40023598Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
Catherine Hill1; Pedro Soares, Maru Mormina1, Vincent Macaulay, William Meehan, James Blackburn, Douglas Clarke, Joseph Maripa Raja, Patimah Ismail, David Bulbeck, Stephen Oppenheimer, Martin Richards (2006), "Phylogeography and Ethnogenesis of Aboriginal Southeast Asians", Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^ Reich et al., Denisova Admixture and the First Modern Human Dispersals into Southeast Asia and Oceania, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2011), , DOI:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.09.005, PMC 3188841, PMID 21944045, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929711003958
"About 3% to 5% of the DNA of people from Melanesia (islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean), Australia and New Guinea as well as aboriginal people from the Philippines comes from the Denisovans." Oldest human DNA found in Spain --Elizabeth Landau's interview of Svante Paabo, accessdate=2013-12-09
^ Jules Quartly (27 Nov 2004). "In honor of the Little Black People". Taipei Times. p. 16. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
Liu, James J.Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967 (ISBN 0-2264-8688-5)
Evans, Ivor Hugh Norman. The Negritos of Malaya. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press, 1937.
Garvan, John M., and Hermann Hochegger. The Negritos of the Philippines. Wiener Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte und Linguistik, Bd. 14. Horn: F. Berger, 1964.
Hurst Gallery. Art of the Negritos. Cambridge, Mass: Hurst Gallery, 1987.
Khadizan bin Abdullah, and Abdul Razak Yaacob. Pasir Lenggi, a Bateq Negrito Resettlement Area in Ulu Kelantan. Pulau Pinang: Social Anthropology Section, School of Comparative Social Sciences, Universití Sains Malaysia, 1974.
Schebesta, P., & Schütze, F. (1970). The Negritos of Asia. Human relations area files, 1-2. New Haven, Conn: Human Relations Area Files.
Zell, Reg. About the Negritos - A Bibliography. edition blurb, 2011.
Zell, Reg. Negritos of the Philippines -The People of the Bamboo - Age - A Socio-Ecological Model. edition blurb, 2011.
Zell, Reg. John M. Garvan - An Investigation - On the Negritos of Tayabas. edition blurb, 2011.
Filipiniana.net: "Negritos in the Philippines" — detailed book written by an American at the turn of the previous century holistically describing the Negrito culture.
Andaman.org: The Negrito of Thailand
Historycooperative.org: Africans and Asians: Historiography and the Long View of Global Interaction