The genetic structure of a tribal population, the Yanomama Indians. XII. Biodemographic studies

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1975 Jan;42(1):25-51. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330420105.


The Yyanomama Indians of Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil are one of the largest, relatively unacculturated tribes of the tropical rain forest. Over a period of eight years data have been collected from a considerable portion of their territory on estimated age, sex ratio, fertility rates (as determined by physical examination and urine tests), and infant death rates. Although it has been impossible to collect direct data on infanticide, this subject can be approached indirectly through distortions of the sex ratio and anecdotal information. Some historical data are also available as a basis for estimating tribal expansion in the past 100 years. With this material it has been possible to construct Life Tables for the anomama,, and to explore the results of various perturbations of the input parameters. Data are also presented on patterns of mating and reproduction: number of spouses, mean and variance in number of surviving children, frequency of "extra-marital conceptions" based on the results of extensive blood group typings, and consanguinity rates as determined by observation and computer simulation. Although we do not present the Yanomama as typical, these data are seen as providing a basis for more realistic population models than have existed in the past. In addition, the data provide a basis for relatively precise estimates of such demographic measures as Fisher's Reproductive Value, Crow's Index of Total Selection, and Weiss' Index of Growth Regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Birth Rate
  • Blood Group Antigens
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consanguinity
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Humans
  • Indians, South American*
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infanticide
  • Male
  • Menarche
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mortality
  • Physical Examination
  • Population Growth
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Venezuela


  • Blood Group Antigens