The concept of a Dinaric race originated with Joseph Deniker, but became most closely associated with the writings of Hans F. K. Günther and Carleton S. Coon. The name was derived from the Dinaric Alps (the western part of the Balkan Peninsula) which was supposed to be the principal habitat.
Characteristics were defined as tall, mostly mesomorph bodily build, with relatively long legs and short trunk and a medium arm span. The overall anatomy of the head was said to be brachycephalic to hyperbrachycephalic (Cranial index: 81-86) whereby the condition is caused by both rather high breadth of the head and a medium length of the neurocranium, whose back part is often somewhat flattened (planoccipital).
This is how the type was described:
The vertical height of the cranium is high. Eyes are set relatively close and the surrounding tissue defines them as wide open. The iris is most often brown, with a significant percentage of light pigmentation in the Dinaric population. The nose is large, narrow and convex. The face is long and orthognathic, with a prominent chin, and also wide. The form of the forehead is variable, but not rarely it is bulbous. The hair color is usually dark brown, with black-haired and blond individuals in minority, blondness being the characteristic of the more Central European, morphologically similar Noric race (a race intermediate between Nordic and Dinaric races).
The skin is lacking the rosy color characteristic for Northern Europe as well as the relatively brunet pigmentation characteristic for the southernmost Europe and on a geographical plane it is of medium pigmentation and often it is variable.
Several theories were postulated regarding the genesis of the Dinaric race. Most researchers agreed that this race was autochthonous to its present habitat from the Neolithic period. Both Günther and Coon claimed that the Bell-Beaker people of the European Bronze Age were at least partially Dinaric.
Coon also argued, however, in The Origin of Races (1962), that the Dinaric and some other categories "are not races but simply the visible expressions of the genetic variability of the intermarrying groups to which they belong." He referred to the creation of this distinctive phenotype from the mixing of earlier separate groups as "dinarisation". In his view Dinarics were a specific type that arose from ancient mixes of the Mediterranean race and Alpine race.
According to the Dinaric model, Dinarics were to be found in the mountainous areas of the western Balkans (Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia, Austria, Montenegro, most of northwestern Bulgaria, and northwestern Republic of Macedonia). Northern and Eastern Italy was considered mostly a Dinaric area as well as western Greece, Romania, eastern Ukraine, southeastern German-speaking areas, and parts of southern Poland and southeastern France.