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Mystery surrounds Australasian DNA link


Posted on Thursday, 23 July, 2015 | Comment icon 158 comments

The inhabitants of the Amazon may have originated in Australia. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 JialiangGao
Scientists have found a genetic link between the indigenous peoples of Australia and South America.
Two separate studies have succeeded in discovering the unexpected connection which links the native inhabitants of the Amazon with the indigenous peoples of Australia and Melanesia.

It is generally accepted that the first people to reach the Americas got there by crossing a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska, but the precise date at which this first happened and what countries they originated from has always remained a topic of debate.

One theory suggests that the first people to arrive in North America did so around 23,000 years ago and that they later split in to two branches with some heading to South America.
Other theories however predict multiple waves arriving in the Americas at different times.

"The simplest possible model never predicted an affinity between Amazonians today and Australasians," said Prof David Reich from Harvard Medical School.

"This suggests that there is an ancestral population that crossed into the Americas that is different from the population that gave rise to the great majority of Americans. And that was a great surprise."

According to Prof Reich the most likely explanation is that a separate migration from Australasia occurred around 15,000 years ago with those people eventually being pushed towards the south by the existing Native American groups who had populated North America before that time.

Source: BBC News | Comments (158)

Tags: Australia, Amazon, Migration, DNA

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #149 Posted by jaylemurph on 15 January, 2016, 5:15
The Americas have been a melting pot for quite a long while longer than any of the establishment will admit. My favorite evidence for this are the giant negroid (African) looking heads in Guatemala. And didn't they find evidence of cocaine (a plant native to Americas) in African mummies? Pieces of art are notoriously difficult to use as pieces of historical evidence. All art is subject to conventions that vary wildly over time and place, and which can sometimes overpower any tendency towards realism (well, naturalism), especially in non-modern cultures. What those sculptures look like to us (a... [More]
Comment icon #150 Posted by kane9 on 15 January, 2016, 13:19
I agree that the history of the settlement of the Americas is quite likely more complicated than the scenario long favored by the "establishment". Proving that complexity is part of the promise of our increasingly sophisticated understanding of DNA. Along with that improving tech, new finds are needed, particularly in North America. Unlike in past decades, there are people looking now that it's no longer a career killer to challenge a once completely dominant paradigm. Qualified people with open minds actually have to get out in the field and dig. I think that is happening now, even in NA. If ... [More]
Comment icon #151 Posted by Gingitsune on 15 January, 2016, 13:39
Very interesting finding, thanks for sharing, Everdred. So, 3.28% Aurignacian and and 29.22% Gravettian from a 6000 years old mummy from the region which is now Northern Chile, Southern Peru. First, a map showing Aurignacian's known area of diffusion. The tool technique was in fashion between 37,000 to 28,000 years ago. It was followed by the Gravettian. Then the Gravettian. It lasted from about 29,000 to 22,000 years ago and was then replaced by Solutrean tool technique. I would guess that the 3.28% Aurignacian was traces of already archaic DNA left among in the Gravattian DNA, I don't see th... [More]
Comment icon #152 Posted by Genetiker on 15 January, 2016, 18:27
Thanks to Everdred for sharing my work here. One should refer to my latest K = 13 and K = 15 analyses for the most accurate breakdown of the European admixture in the Chinchorro mummy. They show more complexity than what appeared in the post referring to Gravettian admitxure. I think that the Aurignacians belonged to Y haplogroup I and that the Gravettians belonged to Y haplogroup R1. We don't actually have any Aurignacian or Gravettian samples, but in the earlier analysis, the component I called Aurignacian was found largely in Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers belonging to haplogroup I, a... [More]
Comment icon #153 Posted by kane9 on 15 January, 2016, 19:02
^ I deeply appreciate your post. An informed post from the source is most welcome.
Comment icon #154 Posted by SSilhouette on 15 January, 2016, 20:20
.. there are many, many (many!) peoples on the Africa continent, some of whom scarcely resemble those Olmec heads. Agreed. They might likely resemble most closely those tribes along the West Coast who were notably seafarers. Some have quite wide flattened noses while other black Africans have more aquiline facial features. You're right. But it isn't a huge stretch of the imagination to see how searching for more fish, or blown off course in a storm..or just conquesting, those wide-nosed and thick lipped tribes made it to the New World on currents in the Atlantic and established a means of goin... [More]
Comment icon #155 Posted by jaylemurph on 15 January, 2016, 21:31
Agreed. They might likely resemble most closely those tribes along the West Coast who were notably seafarers. Some have quite wide flattened noses while other black Africans have more aquiline facial features. You're right. But it isn't a huge stretch of the imagination to see how searching for more fish, or blown off course in a storm..or just conquesting, those wide-nosed and thick lipped tribes made it to the New World on currents in the Atlantic and established a means of going back and forth. The Atlantic between continents is much narrower than the Pacific. And it was happening there too... [More]
Comment icon #156 Posted by Harte on 15 January, 2016, 22:11
I'm not fundamentally disagreeing with your premise. It's not implausible for there to have been occasional trans-Atlantic contact; I'd just be hesitant to use pre-modern art as evidence. I'd also wonder what the larger context of an "African" head was, which is what fringe writers (and I'm not trying to implicate this is what you were doing at all) never take up at all. How did the Africans get there if contact wasn't occasional and accidental? What were there motives? How did they integrate with the Americans (or did they not)? Pointing out a similarity is only the very first action, and it'... [More]
Comment icon #157 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 18 January, 2016, 22:14
It may be worth mentioning that of the eastern Atlantic islands (Canaries, Maderias, Azores, Cape Verdes), only the Canaries appear to have been inhabited before ~1300AD; and the Canaries were settled ~200BC. You'd think that if there were any sort of transatlantic travel in antiquity, all of them (at least the green ones) would have been colonized.
Comment icon #158 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 18 January, 2016, 22:47
It may be worth mentioning that of the eastern Atlantic islands (Canaries, Maderias, Azores, Cape Verdes), only the Canaries appear to have been inhabited before ~1300AD; and the Canaries were settled ~200BC. You'd think that if there were any sort of transatlantic travel in antiquity, all of them (at least the green ones) would have been colonized. Unless they followed a more northern route, later taken by the Norse. IMHO it'd be a more logical route. Following the edge of the ice, or else going from island to island. Only a few stretches are even out of sight of land... (not saying it did or... [More]


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