2009 Volume 117 Issue 3 Pages 165-170
Although a considerable number of discussions on human evolution based upon the rich fossil remains in Indonesia have been conducted, studies on living humans in this region are rather scarce. The aim of this study is to determine the specific morphological characteristics of present-day adult Indonesians compared with present-day Japanese. The height, sitting height, and weight of 61 male and 77 female Javanese Indonesians, aged 20s–50s, were measured in 2005. Leg length, leg-length-to-height ratio, and body mass index (BMI) were calculated from these measurements for each subject. In comparison with present-day Japanese, the Javanese were shorter in height and sitting height in both sexes. The Javanese males were lighter than the Japanese males, but not so the Javanese females vis-à-vis the Japanese females; therefore, the BMI of the Javanese was lower in the males and higher in the females than in those of their Japanese counterparts. As leg length was not shorter, the Javanese showed a greater leg-length-to-height ratio. The same physical characteristics were observed about 60 years ago, except in height, between Javanese and Japanese, both measured in 1944–1945. Observing this result, relative leg-length to height can be considered a physical characteristic reflecting an ecological adaptation to climate in so-called Mongoloid populations. A secular change during the intervening 60 years of increased body size was exhibited in both the Javanese and Japanese groups. However, this change in the Javanese was smaller than in the Japanese except for BMI, the increase in which was the same in both groups. Considering the remarkable socioeconomic improvement, especially in nutrition, in Japan, these results agree with the general observation that BMI/weight is more sensitive than height to sociocultural factors.