If you want to discover your genetic history and where you came from... you’ve found the right place!


review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

Aboriginal Australian History Finally Resolved

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Everyone probably has wondered at some time what makes Aboriginal Australians different from other people, where they came from and how old their ethnic type is. Well, wonder no more. Following up on the previous post, "Australian Aboriginal DNA Gets Attention," this post will summarize the groundbreaking article in Science magazine, M. Rasmussen et al., "An Aboriginal Australian Genome Reveals Separate Human Dispersals into Asia" (Science 334, 7 Oct. 2011, 94-98).

First the abstract:

We present an Aboriginal Australian genomic sequence obtained from a 100-year-old lock of hair donated by an Aboriginal man from southern Western Australia in the early 20th century. We detect no evidence of European admixture and estimate contamination levels to be below 0.5%. We show that Aboriginal Australians are descendants of an early human dispersal into eastern Asia, possibly 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. This dispersal is separate from the one that gave rise to modern Asians 25,000 to 38,000 years ago. We also find evidence of gene flow between populations of the two dispersal waves prior to the divergence of Native Americans from modern Asian ancestors. Our findings support the hypothesis that present-day Aboriginal Australians descend from the earliest humans to occupy Australia, likely representing one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa.

Above:  Aboriginal Men about 1900 from the Coranderrk Community. La Trobe Picture Collection.

This study of Aboriginals will be cited as a landmark case in genetics because the authors took especial care to disarm any criticism concerning possible admixture and contamination, achieved a stupendous rate of success in sequencing DNA sites and used smart comparators to verify their model of what makes Aboriginals different, including Neanderthals, Denisovans, Andamanese, Filipinos, Indians, Papua New Guineans and Melanesians. Fifty-eight co-authors are listed, with Morten Rasmussen of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, New York, named as the first lead author.

First sentence:

The genetic history of Aboriginal Australians is contentious but highly important for understanding the evolution of modern humans.

Some mysteries pointed out about Aboriginal Australian DNA by the authors include:

--The Aboriginal population contains a lot of diversity, including specimens of most of the world's haplogroups, male and female

--Related populations suggested are hunger-gatherers from Nepal and the Philippines, Great Andamanese and Onge from the Andaman Islands, Highland Papua New Guineans and certain peoples from India

--It was previously unclear whether Aboriginals resulted from a single dispersal out of Africa or multiple-dispersal model

--The role of hybridization with other archaic peoples was also not clear.

The authors confirm that "before European contact occurred, Aboriginal Australian and PNG Highlands ancestors had been genetically isolated from other populations (except possibly each other) since at least 15,000 to 30,000 years B.P." Also, "our results favor the multiple-dispersal model in which the ancestors of Aboriginal Australian and related populations split from the Eurasian population before Asian and Europeans split from each other" (97). "We find that the European and Asian populations split from each other only 25,000 to 38,000 years B.P., in agreement with previous estimates."

The new study finds that Aboriginals have an amount of admixture with Neanderthals and Denisovans comparable to Europeans and Asians, although they have more Denisovan DNA than other people. "This admixture may have occurred in Melanesia or, alternative, in Eurasia during the early migration wave" (97).

In sum, the Aboriginals are part of the same first-out-of-Africa branch of the human tree as Europeans and Asians, their ancestors splitting 62,000 to 75,000 years ago from Africans, and leaving relic related populations in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. A second expansion wave through India, Indo-China and Southeast Asia replaced the original stock, while the Aboriginals became stranded and isolated in Australia about 50,000 years ago. 

"This means that Aboriginal Australians likely have one of the oldest continuous population histories outside sub-Saharan Africa today" (98).

Properly positioning Australian Aboriginals in the expansion of humans out of Africa opens the way to connecting the dots for all the other prehistoric peoples. The migration map presented by Rasmussen et al should be carefully studied for clues about the origins of Asians and Native Americans, to begin with.

Reconstruction of early spread of modern humans outside Africa. Note admixture between early dispersal (red) and second dispersal (black), as well as presence of archaic Denisovans in Asia. Science magazine.


Angel Du Pree commented on 15-Nov-2013 12:58 PM

Back in the seventies I took an anthropology course at the University of Florida. One of the professors had postulated that the Australian aborigines may have had ancestry with the Ainu people off the coast of Japan. Though the Ainu are light skinned he pointed out the fact that both tend to have a similar head shape, notably their foreheads. He showed us a map of ocean currents and one of them led directly from the Ainu sown to Australia. Has this been totally debunked? Have there been any genetic comparisons done?

Nat Turner commented on 15-Feb-2014 08:45 AM

A great, intelligent and mystical people,
greatly not understood and abused by latecomers,
The links between Australia and the surrounds have long been clear,
even before the "proof" by DNA.
What has not been discussed widely or taken into consideration is,
the so called Aboriginals along with the very early inhabitants of India,
were both actually preceded by "pygmies" and
in both cases these "pygmies" were still extant, at least till recently.
They like the pygmies of Africa represent the first of humanity, and
they remained even in Europe way into historical times.
The Greeks pictured them with their protuberant bellies as their gods on pottery,
The Vatican documents them as far away as Greenland under the name Skraelings,
The Japanese Ainu, entering Japan, sight them as "earth spiders & pit dwellers" under the name Koro-pok-guru.
When Pharaoh Seti I wanted to see the "Sacred Dance", ie. heavenly movements,
he sent southward to the land of Punt,
for a pygmy to perform.
The descendants of the first men, even those who were known as the "Gods" are to be found still in pockets across Africa, Asia and elsewhere.
The Australian Aboriginals, The Dravidians the Africans represent the first of man.
They must be especially cherished as they purvey the secrets of man's inception.

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image

Recent Posts


Kurgan Culture Elizabeth DeLand Hawaii Cave art Solutreans Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies John Butler genetic memory Miguel Gonzalez rapid DNA testing Panther's Lodge North African DNA Israel, Shlomo Sand Havasupai Indians Les Miserables Terry Gross palatal tori Barack Obama Fritz Zimmerman Kari Schroeder European DNA b'nei anousim N. Brent Kennedy Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act statistics ethics Navajo Indians Antonio Torroni Old Souls in a New World DNA databases Cismar Hopi Indians Nancy Gentry EURO DNA Fingerprint Test origins of art CODIS markers Melba Ketchum Russell Belk GlobalFiler Tintagel Jewish contribution to world literature ISOGG Romania Puerto Rico Arabia Irish history Indo-Europeans X chromosome Oxford Nanopore Mark Stoneking forensics Bureau of Indian Affairs Patrick Henry metis Applied Epistemology giants Normans Irish Central Joel E. Harris Magdalenian culture Gunnar Thompson Olmec religion Promega Jews Richard Lewontin genetics Eric Wayner epigenetics Columbia University Leicester Russia Muslims in American history Theodore Steinberg Rush Limbaugh Arabic Bulgaria Joseph Andrew Park Wilson immunology Phoenicians Y chromosome DNA Harry Ostrer Cooper surname Early Jews of England and Wales Odessa Shields Cox Charles Perou Albert Einstein College of Medicine Ashkenazi Jews Hispanic ancestry Germany genealogy Richard Dewhurst Maui AP Population genetics Zizmer haplogroup J population genetics Tucson crosses John Ruskamp American Journal of Human Genetics crypto-Jews David Reich Bigfoot Juanita Sims Rich Crankshaw Hadassah Magazine Charlotte Harris Reese Hohokam Indians Teresa Panther-Yates Donald N. Yates haplogroup N Tifaneg Michael Schwartz George van der Merwede Central Band of Cherokee pheromones Horatio Cushman Irish DNA cancer French DNA Monica Sanowar Discovery Channel Tutankamun Bering Land Bridge Ari Plost prehistory Thuya methylation polydactylism Anasazi Chris Stringer ethnic markers phenotype Maya Choctaw Indians ancient DNA Erika Chek Hayden Richmond California Native American DNA Test haplogroup U Black Dutch Marie Cheng Mary Kugler Stan Steiner Colin Renfrew Chauvet cave paintings race Wales Mexico private allele education haplogroup Z Riane Eisler B'nai Abraham Cismaru Sinti PNAS Caucasian Y chromosomal haplogroups Sizemore Indians Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Keros John Wilwol Family Tree DNA Washington D.C. Sea Peoples Richard Buckley Lab Corp Europe Slovakia Rare Genes Henry VII Sorbs Middle Eastern DNA Daily News and Analysis National Museum of Natural History Henry IV African DNA haplogroup B Jon Entine Rafael Falk Oxford Journal of Evolution When Scotland Was Jewish William Byrd Sir Joshua Reynolds Ron Janke Melungeon Heritage Association El Paso Majorca The Nation magazine Yates surname Carl Zimmer Kentucky prehistoric art personal genomics Cornwall Old World Roots of the Cherokee Helladic art Victor Hugo mitochondrial DNA Bill Tiffee Jesse Montes First Peoples Khoisan Nova Scotia human migrations Greeks pipe carving American history Asian DNA haplogroup T Rutgers University Cherokee DNA Project Virginia DeMarce climate change Epigraphic Society Jalisco gedmatch Michoacan Ancestry.com Scientific American Clovis Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America 23andme Austronesian, Filipinos, Australoid Great Goddess King Arthur, Tintagel, The Earliest Jews and Muslims of England and Wales Ethel Cox familial Mediterranean fever French Canadians Stone Age Penny Ferguson admixture Mary Settegast Wikipedia Central Band of Cherokees health and medicine Kennewick Man Basques New York Times Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales (book) Nephilim, Fritz Zimmerman Sasquatch Khazars Melungeons Gravettian culture Life Technologies haplogroup R hoaxes corn Monya Baker Sam Kean DNA testing companies DNA magazine Stephen A. Leon Douglas C. Wallace Constantine Rafinesque Colin Pitchfork clan symbols bar mitzvah George Starr-Bresette Chromosomal Labs Bode Technology Bradshaw Foundation Kate Wong Arizona State University Abenaki Indians Holocaust Nature Genetics autosomal DNA BATWING DNA Fingerprint Test Smithsonian Magazine Dienekes Anthropology Blog Eske Willerslev Cajuns haplogroup C Colima mental foramen Akhenaten Jewish GenWeb Jack Goins Genome Sciences Building Israel seafaring Waynesboro Pennsylvania Tom Martin Scroft Pima Indians Etruscans Native American DNA Freemont Indians Secret History of the Cherokee Indians mummies Ziesmer, Zizmor Grim Sleeper Ireland Dragging Canoe Paleolithic Age Italy Peter Martyr Valparaiso University Patagonia Stony Creek Baptist Church Patrick Pynes Asiatic Echoes Tennessee powwows Nayarit National Geographic Daily News genomics labs haplogroup D Thruston Tablet Bryan Sykes Finnish people Lebanon New York Academy of Sciences Chris Tyler-Smith Sizemore surname Algonquian Indians aliyah Pueblo Grande Museum population isolates Robinson Crusoe Mark Thomas rock art archeology history of science Turkic DNA Lithuania Gila River MHC Science Daily, Genome Biol. Evol., Eran Elhaik, Khazarian Hypothesis, Rhineland Hypothesis news oncology Johnny Depp Marija Gimbutas Walter Plecker genetic determinism Sonora China Joseph Jacobs Gustavo Ramirez Calderon hominids Pomponia Graecina Jewish genetics Stephen Oppenheimer Telltown Austro-Hungary Isabel Allende Daniel Defoe Discover magazine Comanche Indians Belgium Anglo-Saxons alleles Panther's Lodge Publishers Neanderthals Wendy Roth Melanesians Phoenix Anne C. Stone Acadians surnames University of Leicester Nadia Abu El-Haj Rebecca L. Cann Elvis Presley DNA Maronites DNA Forums Iran family history Abraham Lincoln haplogroup X Zionism Nikola Tesla occipital bun human leukocyte antigens Asiatic Fathers of America Philippa Langley Elzina Grimwood Shlomo Sand Taino Indians Anne Marie Fine James Shoemaker Smithsonian Institution megapopulations Harold Sterling Gladwin Melungeon Movement haplogroup G Douglas Preston Melungeon Union far from the tree Svante Paabo Cree Indians Salt River Mother Qualla Jewish novelists medicine Micmac Indians The Calalus Texts evolution Bode Technology Kitty Prince of the Bear River Athabaskans art history New York Review of Books bloviators Holocaust Database District of Columbia King Arthur FDA Hohokam Sarmatians Tucson Alec Jeffreys BBCNews Scotland university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Cancer Genome Atlas Elizabeth C. Hirschman David Cornish breast cancer haplogroup M haplogroup L Myra Nichols Virginia genealogy haplogroup W horizontal inheritance Wendell Paulson anthropology INORA FOX News DNA security Cohen Modal Haplotype Ripan Malhi Chuetas research DNA Diagnostics Center Ancient Giantns Who Ruled America Henriette Mertz Middle Ages cannibalism Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama Jim Bentley Phillipe Charlier Hertfordshire Pueblo Indians Ukraine Michael Grant IntegenX mutation rate Roma People Science magazine New Mexico James Stritzel Kari Carpenter andrew solomon haplogroup E Cherokee Freedmen FBI Illumina peopling of the Americas Plato Sinaloa myths single nucleotide polymorphism HapMap human leukocyte testing Neolithic Revolution DNA Fingerprint Test Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Moundbuilders Britain linguistics Arizona Satoshi Horai Cherokee DNA Amy Harmon Louis XVI London Mohawk Luca Pagani Alabama Black Irish Bryony Jones Gregory Mendel Current Anthropology Navajo Timothy Bestor Genie Milgrom Brian Wilkes Janet Lewis Crain Mucogee Creeks Jan Ravenspirit Franz Stacy Schiff Texas A&M University ENFSI Peter Parham Ostenaco Celts Richard III Egyptians El Castillo cave paintings Altai Turks Nature Communications NPR Douglas Owsley National Health Laboratories clinical chemistry ethnicity Alia Garcia-Ureste Roberta Estes Barnard College England haplogroup H Silverbell Artifacts Ananya Mandal consanguinity India ged.com Genex Diagnostics Zuni Indians Mildred Gentry M. J. Harper microsatellites Cleopatra Charles Darwin Bentley surname research Indian Territory Anacostia Indians Phyllis Starnes North Carolina Denisovans Beringia Gypsies