The New Guinea native is usually of a negroid type with fine physique, but in the Arfak mountains in the north-west, and at points on the west and north coasts and adjacent islands, the very degraded and stunted Karons are found, with hardly the elements of social organization (possibly the aboriginal race unmixed with foreign elements), and resembling the Aetas or Negritos of the Philippines, and other kindred tribes in the Malay Archipelago.
But on the borders of the region, often without real boundary lines, are grouped other peoples, the true Malays, the Indonesians or pre-Malays with the Negritos to the westward and the Australians, who are generally admitted to be a distinct race.
The Negritos appear to be derived from a mixture of the true Negro with the Australoid type.
Whether the two families have a common ancestor in the negritos of Malaysia and the Indian archipelago, or whether Papuan and Negrito are alike branches of an aboriginal African race, is a problem yet to be solved.
The Semang, as they are most usually called by the Malays, are Negritos - a small, very dark people, with features of the negroid type, very prognathous, and with short, woolly hair clinging to the scalp in tiny crisp curls.
Meyer, who spent several years in the Malay Archipelago and New Guinea, developed a contrary conclusion in his Die Negritos der Philippinen (1878), holding that the Negritos and Papuans are identical, and that possibly, or even probably, the former are an offshoot of the latter, like some other Polynesian islanders.
Later scientists have endeavoured to identify the Papuans with the Negritos of the Philippines and the Semangs of the Malay Peninsula.
Few Negritos live to be fifty years of age.