I was just reading on the alleged genetics of height among Europeans and the first thing that stroke me was that the whole story totally assumed from the beginning that Northern Europeans are taller than Southern ones.
While there may be a seed of truth to that stereotype, the reality is much more complex. Just some quick work on known average heights for Europeans gives us the following facts:
|Hierarchically sorted avg. height of 28 European populations (men):
Red: tallest (180-182 cm)
Magenta: medium (177-179 cm)
Blue: shortest(174-176 cm)
|Hierarchically sorted avg. height of 28 European populations (women):
Red: tallest (167-169 cm)
Magenta: medium (164-166 cm)
Blue: shortest(160-163 cm)
Note: the 3-segment division in the men’s map was straightforward because the range of national average was of 9 cm, so 3 cm variation for each, right? However, in the case of women the max. difference is of 10 cm instead but, when we exclude Turkey, only 8 cm, so the shortest segment spans some 4 cm of variation but only 2 cm for Europe senso stricto, so I understand that it is a fair and informative segment after all.
There are some clear facts:
- The highest population seems to be the Dutch.
- The area of greatest height, rather than strictly Northerner seems to be Central European, with only some Northerner tendency.
- The area of least overall height seems to be towards Turkey but there is no clear or simple regional structure of this factor generally speaking.
- Some Northern European populations (Great Britain, Finland) have very short women. Their men are not that tall either.
- Some Southern European populations (notably Spaniards and Greeks, and of course Croats) are not short at all.
- French, Swiss and Hungarian men are rather short for their neighbors’ standards, what might be related (just a quick hunch) with the dominance of the “Alpinoid” phenotype.
In any case, we can’t say too happily that Northern Europeans are taller than Southern ones without at least some qualifications.