. Earth Science News .

Aboriginal Australians the first trans-continental human explorers
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (SPX) Sep 27, 2011

The history of Aboriginal Australians plays a key role in understanding the dispersal of the first humans to leave Africa.

In an exciting development, an international team of researchers have, for the first time, pieced together the human genome from an Aboriginal Australian. The results, now to be published in the international journal Science, re-interpret the prehistory of our species.

By sequencing the genome, the researchers demonstrate that Aboriginal Australians descend directly from an early human expansion into Asia that took place some 70,000 years ago, at least 24,000 years before the population movements that gave rise to present-day Europeans and Asians. The results imply that modern day Aboriginal Australians are in fact the direct descendents of the first people who arrived in Australia as early as 50,000 years ago.

The study derived from a lock of hair donated to a British anthropologist by an Aboriginal man from the Goldfields region of Western Australia in the early 20th century. One hundred years later, researchers have isolated DNA from this same hair, using it to explore the genetics of the first Australians and to provide insights into how humans first dispersed across the globe.

The genome, shown to have no genetic input from modern European Australians, reveals that the ancestors of the Aboriginal man separated from the ancestors of other human populations some 64-75 thousand years ago.

Aboriginal Australians therefore descend directly from the earliest modern explorers, people who migrated into Asia before finally reaching Australia about 50,000 years ago. In showing this, the study establishes Aboriginal Australians as the population with the longest association with the land on which they live today.

This research is presented with the full endorsement of the Goldfields Land and Sea Council, the organization that represents the Aboriginal traditional owners for the region.

The history of Aboriginal Australians plays a key role in understanding the dispersal of the first humans to leave Africa. Archaeological evidence establishes modern human presence in Australia by about 50,000 years ago, but this study re-writes the story of their journey there.

Previously, the most widely accepted theory was that all modern humans derive from a single out-of-Africa migration wave into Europe, Asia, and Australia. In that model, the first Australians would have branched off from an Asian population, already separated from the ancestors of Europeans.

However, this study shows that when ancestral Aboriginal Australians begun their private journey, the ancestors of Asians and Europeans had not yet differentiated from each other. Once they did, some 24,000 years after the first Australians had begun their explorations, Asians and remnants of the ancestral Australians intermixed for a period of time.

Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, who headed the study, explains: "Aboriginal Australians descend from the first human explorers.

While the ancestors of Europeans and Asians were sitting somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, yet to explore their world further, the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians spread rapidly; the first modern humans traversing unknown territory in Asia and finally crossing the sea into Australia. It was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery."

The study has wide implications for understanding of how our human ancestors moved across the globe. So far the only ancient human genomes have been obtained from hair preserved under frozen conditions.

The researchers have now shown that hair preserved in much less ideal conditions can be used for genome sequencing without risk of modern human contamination that is typical in ancient bones and teeth.

Through analysis of museum collections, and in collaboration with descendent groups, researchers can now study the genetic history of many indigenous populations worldwide, even where groups have recently moved about or intermingled.

"This study will be of great interest to a wide range of researches in Anthropological genetics and Molecular biology. It will also advance our scientific understanding and the construction of human global dispersal patterns."

Professor Jun Wang, another head of the study and Executive Director of BGI said, "With the advanced genome sequencing capability and bioinformatics technologies, we are confident that we will achieve more important breakthroughs in accelerating human genomics research to decipher the conundrum of origin, migration and evolution of our species."

Related Links
Beijing Genomics Institute
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here


Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

DNA study suggests Asia was settled in multiple waves of migration
Boston MA (SPX) Sep 27, 2011
An international team of researchers studying DNA patterns from modern and archaic humans has uncovered new clues about the movement and intermixing of populations more than 40,000 years ago in Asia. Using state-of-the-art genome analysis methods, scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have found that Denisovan ... read more

The waste from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami

UN agency sets up nuclear safety 'action team'

UN agency to aid Fukushima clean-up

Japan bakery stands out in tsunami wasteland

Amazon expected to unveil tablet at mystery event

Sony uniting strengths at online network

Nanoplasmonics And Metamaterials

Lehigh University ceramics researchers shed light on metal embrittlement

Sneaking up on the glassy transition of water

Enough water to double world food production - study

Small fish recover faster than large fish

Scientists probe Indian Ocean for clues to worldwide weather patterns

Chinese target Arctic with Iceland land deal: experts

Model provides successful seasonal forecast for the fate of Arctic sea ice

Putin touts Arctic Northeast passage

Understanding methane's seabed escape

Major river basins have enough water to sustainably double food production in the coming decades

GM food solutions at risk from lobbyists

Anger spreads over Bolivia crackdown on protesters

Researchers take advice from a carnivorous plant

Sixteen dead as Typhoon Nesat strikes Philippines

Evacuations as typhoon nears Philippines

60 dead, four million affected in India floods

Pacific Hurricane Hilary swells to Category Four

Guyana opposition warns foreign bauxite firms

Zambia's Sata tells Chinese investors to respect labour laws

Sierra Leone army chief urges political impartiality

China to build $439-million housing complex in Mozambique

Many roads lead to Asia

Female promiscuity can rescue populations from harmful effects of inbreeding

DNA study suggests Asia was settled in multiple waves of migration

Did the orientation of the continents hinder ancient settlement of the Americas

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement