Since ancient times the Mediterranean island of Sardinia has been known for harboring a population with an average body height shorter than almost every other ethnic group in Europe. After over a century of investigations, the cause(s) at the origin of this uniqueness are not yet clear. The shorter stature of Sardinians appears to have been documented since prehistoric times, as revealed by the analysis of skeletal remains discovered in archaeological sites on the island. Recently, a number of genetic, hormonal, environmental, infective and nutritional factors have been put forward to explain this unique anthropometric feature, which persisted for a long time, even when environmental and living conditions improved around 1960. Although some of the putative factors are supported by sound empirical evidence, weaker support is available for others. The recent advent of whole genome analysis techniques shed new light on specific variants at the origin of this short stature. However, the marked geographical variability of stature across time and space within the island, and the well-known presence of pockets of short height in the population of the southern districts, are still puzzling findings that have attracted the interest of anthropologists and geneticists. The purpose of this review is to focus on the state-of-the-art research on stature, as well as the factors that made Sardinians the shortest among Europeans.
- Pes, G.M., Tognotti, E., Poulain, M., Chambre, D. and Dore, M.P. (2017). Why were Sardinians the shortest Europeans? A journey through genes, infections, nutrition, and sex. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, in press, in press.
Peoples: Sardinians | Places: Sardinia | Topics: Stature | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA