Tuesday, May 15, 2007

From DNA Analysis, Clues To a Single Australian Migration

Examination of old and new samples of Aborigine DNA show that Aborigines and the people of Papua-New Guinea are descended from a single founding population. The two islands were reached some 50,000 years ago by a group of the ancestral people.

Genetic samples show that all Australian Aborigines are descended from the founding population. It means that there have been no further immigrants who reached Australia in numbers large enough to leave a genetic trace until today. Bone structure of the oldest human remains from Australia, 45,000 years ago, was gracile whereas fossils from 20,000 years ago are robust. Because the genetic lineage is shared by all Australian Aborigine indicates, the difference of bone structure would have come from process like adaptation to climatic change. The findings also suggest that the oldest inhabitants of New Guinea would have changed under the evolutionary forces of selection and genetic drift.

In addition, counting mutations in DNA indicate that the emigrants’ journey from India to the continent that included New Guinea and Australia would have taken less than 5,200 years.

Reference
Wade, Nicholas. DNA Analysis, Clues To a Single Australian Migration. The New York Times Tuesday, May 8, 2007.

-- Submitted by Hiroko Kubota

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