The issues of the anthropology of Argentina are closely connected with those of the surrounding regions, that is in the forefront of Brazil, therefore of the territories that politically belong to Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and thirdly of the Andean region. The southern territories of Argentina (Patagonia) are of lesser importance, or rather it is not them that we need to think about when researching the sources and ways of the recent population (anthropologically speaking) of Argentina and the origins and origins of the lineages that in the average territory and northern Argentina inhabited and still inhabit. In any case, Patagonia will have its own particular treatment.
Since everything else needs to be premised that the Argentine territory, given its predominant nature, being made up mostly of large grassy plains, or shrubs, or steppes, or deserts, and given the absence of natural barriers, consisting of mountains and large rivers, it always had to present itself as an open territory with easy access to ethnic movements, so that it did not constitute a fixed seat for groups that had their origin and development there undisturbed. There are numerous arguments to believe that the prevailing direction of ethnic movements in the region (perhaps not taking into account very ancient movements, which we can more suppose than know) was from the north to the south.
For this reason the anthropology of Patagonia (and above all the prehistoric one) could, on the contrary, provide us with very useful documents on the ethnic groups that populated Argentina, given that all the successive ethnic waves that crossed that immense territory collided there. And in fact the anthropology of Patagonia provides not a few clarifications in this regard; unfortunately the knowledge of the prehistory of the Patagonian region is still very far from being known as it deserves.
In sketching an anthropology of Argentina, the neighboring regions must therefore be taken into consideration. What, moreover, is above all necessary considering the present indigenous population, since, as is well known, over a large part of the central territory, it has practically disappeared.
The most concrete knowledge that we have is that resulting from studies on the living: we actually have a number of craniometric and osteometric studies for said territory, but the true distinctive characteristics of human groups are not made up of metric characters, but of descriptive ones, which are found especially in the structure of the face, particularly in its covering of soft parts, and only secondarily in other external dispositions (hair shape, skin color, etc.). Now most of these works do not deal with descriptive characters nor do they provide sufficient illustrative material from which these can be deduced; therefore what of these works is usable is very little.
The so-called horizontal index in this region leads quite astray. Eg. the Andean populations have similar indices to some of eastern Brazil (Caiapó) and to others of the Amazon region, while most likely the three groups must be kept distinct from each other (see Brazil).
The better knowledge of the present populations is due to two authors: Lehmann-Nitsche and our Boggiani, whose work, unfortunately, was interrupted by a violent death.
Lehmann-Nitsche studied four ethnic groups from the northernmost regions of the territory that interests us: those of the Chiriguano, Chorote, Mataco and Toba, taking numerous measurements and photographs.
The Chiriguano, who make up a group of the western Tupi-Guaraní (residents on the eastern side of Bolivia), have an average height of 163.4 in males; the ratio of the large opening of the arms to the height is 103.5; the ratio of the length of the lower limb to the stature is 51.5.
However, it must be borne in mind that the distance that measures this length is the so-called trochanteric height, i.e. the vertical distance from the ground of the most prominent upward part of the greater trochanter of the femur. This length is very different from the one most commonly used to express the length of the lower limb, which is the residue of the subtraction of the so-called “sitting” height from the stature. The seated height is the distance from the vertex of the head to the support plane of the buttocks, when the subject is seated. It is therefore understood that the indices taken on the trochanteric height are not comparable to those taken from lengths taken from the seated height.
Admitting the indices 50 and 52 by limits of the middle category (mesatischelia), of the ratio of the length of the lower limb to the height, we see that the Chiriguanas are mesatischeles, but with a tendency towards the macroschelia, that is, with a tendency to have a long lower limb. (52 up).
The horizontal cephalic index is 80.2; the facial one (ratio between the height of the face and the width) of 87.3. The nasal index (ratio between the width of the nose and the height) 79.8. The skin color seems a little lighter than in the other three groups, having a certain percentage of low numbers (15-18) on the scale of v. Luschan.
In Chiriguanas who wear long hair, a wave shape of the hair was sometimes observed.
The Chorote (residents of the upper reaches of the Pilcomayo) have a stature of cm. 161.6; the ratio of the large opening of the arms is 103.5; that of the length of the lower limb to the stature of 52.3; hence initial macroskelia. The horizontal cephalic index is 77.6; the facial index of 88; the nasal index of 79.8.
The Mataco (residents of the upper reaches of Pilcomayo and Bermejo) have a stature of 163.8 in males; a ratio of the opening of the arms to the height of 104.5; a ratio of the length of the lower limb to the stature of 53.3; namely well-declared maphroskelia. The horizontal cephalic index is 78.1; the facial index of 87.1; the nasal index of 82.8. The appearance of the Mataco can be said to be the most primitive and lowest of these four groups; immediately doi or to them comes the Chorote group.
The Toba (residents of the middle and lower courses of Pilcomayo and Bermejo) have a stature of 169.8 in males; an arm spread to height ratio of 104.4; a ratio of the length of the lower limb to the stature of 52.8. The horizontal cephalic index is 78.9; the facial index of 88.5; the nasal index of 75.4.
The Lehmann-Nitsche data do not contain clarifications on the cephalic height, which would be of great use to see to what extent the series contain forms or platicephalic, which characterize the caribo-arovac-tupi type (see spherical).
This is partly helped by the series of skulls supplied by the various authors, which give the existence of low skulls among the Chiriguanas as probable. A series of Takscik, measured by Lehmann-Nitsche earlier, would highlight the presence of a low cranium element – logically, also in the Toba, the Takscik being a group of them.
The descriptive characters of the face are somewhat different between these groups. In the Chorote and Mataco a type with depressed nasal root, with strong superciliary arches, prominent knobs, which certainly resembles the Botocudo type (see america), seems frequent. The two groups are also distinguished from the other two preceding ones by the ratio of the length of the tibia to that of the femur, a much lower ratio in the Mataco and Chorote.
In the Chiriguano we have the highest facial type among the four groups. It is legitimate to suppose in this, also for the mesatischelia index, the influence of an Andean Quechúa element, but this influence must not be, in our opinion, predominant. It seems to us that the Toba type can be designated as the product of a refinement of the Yamamadi type (see America and Brazil).
In all four groups, Mongolism appears to be scarce.
Things are different for the ethnic groups that are reproduced in Boggiani’s photographs. The Caduvei (of the Guaycurú group) show the intervention of the Bororo element (see america) in a strong degree. The Angaité, on the other hand, seem to demonstrate the influence of the Botocudo element, as well as the Bororo one. Moreover, the skulls of the Chaco, in general, gave the Mochi frequencies of profatnia (projection of the alveolar edge) and high nasal indices, symptoms, probably, of the intervention of the Botocudo type (Sera).