The term "Mongoloid" is a variation of the word "Mongol", meaning "Mongol-like". It has been coined as a racial category to describe the distinctive appearance of East Asian peoples. Today it is most used in discussions of human prehistory, historical definitions of race and in the forensic analysis of human remains. The concept's existence is based on a now disputed typological method of racial classification. In forensics, Mongoloid is considered a skull type that is used to determine the probable soft-tissue reconstruction of discovered human remains. The -oid racial terms are now often controversial in both technical and non-technical contexts and may sometimes give offense no matter how they are used. This is especially true of "Mongoloid" because it has also been used as a synonym for persons with Down Syndrome, and in American English as a generic insult meaning "idiot". Contrary to popular beliefs, Mongoloid refers to diverse ethnical groups, instead of a homogeneous group.
The term comes from the Mongolian people of East Asia, who had a reputation in Europe for ruthless expansionism and massacre of enemy populations. The first usage of the term "Mongolian race" was by Christoph Meiners in a "binary racial scheme" of "two races" with the Caucasian whose racial purity was exemplified by the "venerated... ancient Germans" with some Europeans being impure "dirty whites" and "Mongolians" who consisted of everyone else. The term "Mongolian" was borrowed from Meiners by Johann Blumenbach to describe "second [race], [which] includes that part of Asia beyond the Ganges and below the river Amoor [Amur], which looks toward the south, together with the islands and the greater part of these countries which is now called Australian." In 1861, Isid Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire added the "Australian" as a "secondary race" (subrace) of the "principal race" of "Mongolian" In the nineteenth century Georges Cuvier used the term "Mongolian" again as a racial classification, but additionally included American Indians under the term. Later, Thomas Huxley used the term "Mongoloid" and included American Indians as well as Arctic Native Americans. Other nomenclatures were proposed, such as "Mesochroi" (middle color), but "Mongoloid" was widely adopted. In 1915, "anthropologist Arthur de Gobineau" defined the extent of the "Mongolian" race, "by the yellow the Altaic, Mongol, Finnish and Tartar branches." In the 20th century, Carleton S. Coon used the term and included Pacific Islanders. In 1983, Futuyma claimed that the inclusion of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders under the Mongoloid race was not recognized by "many anthropologists" who consider them "distinct races". For example, in 1984, Roger J. Lederer Professor of Biological Sciences separately listed the "Mongoloid" race from Pacific islanders and American Indians when he enumerated the "geographical variants of the same species known as races... we recognize several races Eskimos, American Indians, Mongoloid... Polynesian.
In 1865, Thomas Huxley presented the views of polygenesists of which Huxley was not as "some imagine their assumed species of mankind were created where we find them... the Mongolians from the Orangs."
In 1897, WEB DuBois, sociologist and historian, said, "[t]he final word of science, so far, is that we have at least two perhaps three, great families of human beings -- the whites and Negroes, possibly the yellow race [he calls this "Mongolian" later]. The other races have arisen from the intermingling of the blood of these two." Later, there was a "change in his anthropological view", where he postulated "Negroids and Mongoloids are primary, with Caucasoids listed as a type between these, possibly formed by their union, with bleached skin and intermediate hair."
In 1972, Carleton Coon claimed, "[f]rom a hyborean [sic] group there evolved, in northern Asia, the ancestral strain of the entire specialized mongoloid family. In 1962, Coon believed that the Mongoloid "subspecies" existed "during most of the Pleistocene, from 500,000 to 10,000 years ago". According to Coon, the Mongoloid race had not completed its "invasions and expansions" into Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands until "[t]oward the end of the Pleistocene" By this time Coon hypothesis that the Mongoloid race had become "sapien". Milford Wolpoff and Rachel Caspari characterize "his [Carleton Coon's] contention [as being] that the Mongoloid race crossed the "sapiens threshold" first and thereby evolved the furthest".
M.K Bhasin's review article (referencing Mourant 1983) suggests that "The Caucasoids and the Mongoloids almost certainly became differentiated from one another somewhere in Asia" and that "Another differentiation, which probably took place in Asia, is that of the Australoids, perhaps from a common type before the separation of the Mongoloids."
Dr. T. Tirado claims that "many experts" consider American Indians and East Asians to be descended from a "Proto-Mongoloid" population which existed as late as 12,000 years ago. See also: Models of migration to the New World
Futuyma believes the Mongoloid race "diverged 41,000 years ago" from a Mongoloid and Caucasoid group which diverged from Negroids "110,000 years ago".
Peter Brown (1999) evaluates three sites with early East Asian modern human skeletal remains (Liujiang, Liuzhou, Guangxi, China; Zhoukoudian's Upper Cave; and Minatogawa in Okinawa) dated to between 10,175 to 33,200 years ago, and finds lack of support for the conventional designation of skeletons from this period as "Proto-Mongoloid"; this would make Neolithic sites 5500 to 7000 years ago (e.g. Banpo) the oldest known Mongoloid remains in East Asia, younger than some in the Americas. He concludes that the origin of the Mongoloid phenotype remains unknown, and could even lie in the New World.
A 2006 study of linkage disequilibrium finds that northern populations in East Asia started to expand in number between 34 and 22 thousand years ago (KYA), before the last glacial maximum at 21–18 KYA, while southern populations started to expand between 18 and 12 KYA, but then grew faster, and suggests that the northern populations expanded earlier because they could exploit the abundant megafauna of the ‘‘Mammoth Steppe,’’ while the southern populations could increase in number only when a warmer and more stable climate led to more plentiful plant resources such as tubers.
In 1900, Joseph Deniker said, the "Mongol race admits two varieties or subraces: Tunguse or Northern Mongolian... and Southern Mongolian" The people of East Asia are called "Northern Mongoloids". Archaeologist Peter Bellwood claims that the "vast majority" of people in Southeast Asia, the region he calls the "clinal Mongoloid-Australoid zone", are "Southern Mongoloids" but have a "high degree" of Australoid admixture. Ainus are considered Southern Mongoloids even though they live in East Asia. Sinodonty and Sundadonty are dentition patterns that correspond to the Northern Mongoloid vs. Southern Mongoloid distinction.