Australian Aboriginals Are First Earth Explorers: Genetic Study

on September 23 2011 2:38 AM

A genetic study done by an international team of scientists reveals Aboriginal Australians are descended from the boldest early humans who left Africa almost 75,000 years to strike out across Asia and finally settle down in Australia.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and an international team analyzed genetic material from 100-year-old hair donated by an Aboriginal man from the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Researchers sequenced the DNA and concluded that the man's ancestors were directly descended from the adventurers who left Africa almost 24,000 years earlier than the forebears of modern Asians and Europeans.

Aboriginal Australians descend from the first human explorers, it was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery, said lead author Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen.

The evidence suggests the ancestors of the Aboriginal man separated from the ancestors of other human populations some 64,000 to 75,000 years ago ... before finally reaching Australia about 50,000 years ago, said the study, which could rewrite the course of history.

According to the study published in the journal Science, researchers found no genetic input from modern European Australians, which indicates that Australian Aborigines moved through Asia and into Australia in a separate wave.

Joe Dortch, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia defined the discovery, in an e-mail to the Chinese news service Xinhua, as a new chapter of the human history as it confirms that humans migrated from Africa in separate waves rather than in one single out-of-Africa diaspora.

Studying the genetic history of Aboriginal Australians has been difficult as scientists had limited access to the DNA from fossilized bones, but this new study confirms Aboriginals are one of the oldest continuous populations outside of Africa as well as the population with the longest association with the land on which they live today, the report states.

Other scientists are skeptical about the study as they believe the newly developed statistical test was based on just four complete genomes which might provide ambiguous results. They believe more such studies on the genetics of the Aboriginals and comparisons with a larger number of genome sequences are required to conclude whether the Aboriginals truly descended from Africa.

 

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