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Thread: What are Melungeons?

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    Senior Member Krampus's Avatar
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    Question What are Melungeons?

    Yes, that's what I thought too when I first heard the name...what are they? Apparently a sub ethnicity living in the Appalachian Mountain area of the US. Their heritage is disputed as being part Arab, Turk, Negroid or Portuguese. They are inclined to a number of diseases which plagues Mediterranean peoples. Here's an excerpt from genealogist and Melungeon herself Nancy Sparks giving a physical description of a Melungeon-

    Taken from - http://homepages.rootsweb.com/%7Emtnties/mlgnfaq.html
    What are the Physical Characteristics of the Melungeons?
    There are some physiological characteristics which are not entirely documented, but seem to be passed on through the lines of some Melungeon descendants. There is a bump on the back of the HEAD of SOME descendants, that is located at mid-line, just ABOVE the juncture with the neck. It is about the size of half a golf ball or smaller. If you cannot find the bump, check to see if you, like some descendants, including myself, have a ridge, located at the base of the head where it joins the neck, rather than the Anatolian bump. My ridge is quite noticeable. It is larger than anyone else’s that I have felt, except my father’s. I can lay one finger under it and the ridge is as deep as my finger is thick. Other ridges are smaller. To find a ridge, place your hand at the base of your neck where it joins your shoulders, and on the center line of your spine. Run your fingers straight up your neck toward your head. If you have a ridge, it will stop your fingers from going on up and across your head. People who live in the Anatolian region of Turkey also have this “bump.”

    There is also a ridge on the back of the first four teeth - two front teeth and the ones on either side (upper and lower) of some descendants. If you place your fingernail at the gum line and gently draw (up or down) you can feel it and it makes a slight clicking sound. The back of the teeth also curve outward rather than straight as the descendants of Anglo-Saxon parentage do. Teeth like these are called Asian Shovel Teeth. Many Indian descendants also have this type of teeth. The back of the first four teeth of Northern European descendants are straight and flat.

    SOME Melungeon descendants have what is called an Asian eyefold. This is rather difficult to describe. At the inner corner of the eye, the upper lid attaches slightly lower than the lower lid. That is to say that it overlaps the bottom lid. If you place your finger just under the inner corner of the eye and gently pull down, a wrinkle will form which makes the fold more visible. Some people call these eyes, “sleepy eyes, dreamy eyes, bedroom eyes.” Many Indian descendants also have these kinds of eyes.

    Some families may have members with fairly dark skin who suffer with vitiligo, a loss of pigmentation, leaving the skin blotched with white patches. Some descendants have had six fingers or toes. There is a family of people in Turkey whose surname translated into English is “Six Fingered Ones.”

    Very interesting stuff of course I'm not sure if I'd recognize someone who is Melungeon or part-Melungeon if I saw one; however, I ran into another website with a picture of a Melungeon family and they do look very Turkish or even Gypsy like. http://www.geocities.com/mikenassau/what.htm I posted that site just for the fact it has a picture of a Melungeon family, not because I agree with Nassau's views on racial matters in the United States, as he appears to have a more political agenda. Anyone ever meet a Melungeon? or have any pictures of Melungeons?

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    The Melungeons are a tri-racial group, are descended from Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans. Historically, they lived primarily in the Cumberland Plateau of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee. They were concentrated in upper east Tennessee, particularly the area around Hancock and Hawkins County, Tennessee. Significant groups of them later spread to Louisiana and Texas.
    Among famous people who have probable or documented Melungeon ancestry: Elvis Presley, Abraham Lincoln, Heather Locklear, Loretta Lynn.

    Feel the back of your teeth with your tongue- European teeth are supposed to have straight backs. I'd like to see a study done on the prevalence of sinodonty in modern Europeans. It's interesting to learn about these hidden traits of neutral importance (they're neither advantageous or disadvantageous today) which are only useful to account for origin or at least some prehistoric connection.

    Anthropologists for more than a century have been intrigued by the biological similarities between Siberians and North American Indians. Christy Turner II of Arizona State University has studied the changing physical characteristics of Native American teeth, especially in their crowns and roots, and has compared them with those of Old World Asian populations.

    The dental features studied by Turner are more stable than most morphological traits. There is a high genetic component that minimizes the effect of environmental differences, sexual dimorphism, and age variations. Turner has studied more than 4000 individuals, ancient and modern. From this, he has developed a series of hypotheses about the first settlement of the Americas based on dental morphology.

    Prehistoric Americans display many fewer variations in their dental morphology than do Eastern Asians. Turner calls these features sinodonty. It is a pattern of dental features that includes shovel-shaped incisors, single-rooted upper first premolars, triple rooted lower first molars and other attributes.

    (What kind of frequencies are observed? Three-rooted lower first molars are reported in 25-40% of Eskimo-Aleuts and 6% for most North American Indian groups.) The cornerstone of Turner's hypothesis is this: sinodonty only occurs in northern Asia and the Americas. Sinodonty does not occur among the neighboring Mal'ta people of Lake Baikal or in the Stone Age Ukraine.)

    Turner's earliest evidence for sinodonty comes from northern China in about 18,000 B.C. He believes, however, that it emerged much earlier, perhaps as early as 40,000 years ago. According to his calculations, the Sinodonts migrated into Mongolia about 20,000 years ago and across the Bering Strait about 14,000 years ago.

    European Upper Paleolithic peoples do not display sinodonty. It is Turner's belief that the Sinodont northern Chinese may have evolved from a primeval Southeast Asian Homo sapiens population.
    I always wondered what that weird thing on the back of my head was. When I was younger I thought it was some kind of tumor or something! I guess it's just an "Anatolian bump." I'll have to ask my parents and siblings if they have this too, to see how prevalent it is in our family. I'm second-generation American and don't have any of this 'Melungeon' ancestry, BTW.

    Anatolian Head Bump. This bump is on the back of the head, located at mid-line, just above the juncture with the neck. It is about the size and shape of half a golf ball or smaller. This bump is unique to the people who lived in the Anatolian region of Turkey or in Central Asia.
    Too bad I'm not bald (yeah right!), I would take a photo of it.

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    Senior Member Zimmer Mann's Avatar
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    So is the back lower part of the occiput supposed to run smoothly into the neck?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zimmer Mann
    So is the back lower part of the occiput supposed to run smoothly into the neck?

    It sounds like an occipital bun, though those occur infrequently among modern europeans, chiefly Finns and Saami....

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