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


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