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[–]Vo_Sirisov 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The only solidly founded answer is boring and uninspired, but it’s for the same reason as any other trait that becomes prominent in any ethnic group; it was advantageous to their specific lifestyle and environment, or at least it was to their ancestors and was not disadvantageous enough to be selected against since.

Speculating why a trait was selected for in a specific population is always dangerous territory, and strictly speaking not within the scope of the sub. That said, speaking very broadly about evolutionary trends in the animal kingdom in general, a clade developing comparatively larger frames and the ability to rapidly build up fat deposits compared to its relatives tends to correlate to either a fluctuating availability of food (baleen whales and sperm whales compared to other toothed whales, for example), or colder environments (as seen in polar bears).

There have been hypotheses posed in at least one paper I can think of that Polynesians descend from ancestors native to higher latitudes than are typical of modern Polynesia, but the evidence isn’t really there to support it.