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A scientific team led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, University College Dublin, and the Max Planck institute for the Science of Human History, and including Binghamton University Associate Professor of Anthropology Andrew D. Merriwether, analyzed DNA from people who lived in Tonga and Vanuatu between 2,500 and 3,100 years ago, and were among the first people to live in these islands. The results overturn the leading genetic model for this last great movement of humans to unoccupied but habitable lands. "The genetic data so far hasn't been able to prove it one way or another. Nobody ever looked directly in the past to test the question. Up until now, all of the hypotheses were based on the blood samples and cheek swabs of living people," said Merriwether, who spent a decade collecting and analyzing several thousand DNA samples in the Bismarck Archipelago with colleagues Jonathan Friedlaender of Temple University and George Koki of Goroka, Papua New Guinea. Read more at archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com...
When the researchers examined the DNA sequences they found -- to their great surprise -- that the ancient individuals carried no trace of ancestry from people who settled Papua New Guinea more than 40,000 years ago, in contrast to all present-day Pacific islanders who derive at least one-quarter of their ancestry from Papuans. This means that the Remote Oceanian pioneers swept past the archipelago that surrounds New Guinea without much mating with local people. "We had a hard time even getting this paper published, because it's controversial. But the results are very unambiguous," said Merriwether. "These early people don't show signs of Papuan DNA -- the people from New Guinea and Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago all have this much-older DNA. And we don't see signs of that, almost at all, in these ancient remains. So that implies very strongly that the people who went out there really sort of bypassed those islands, or they didn't interbreed with them. Because the modern populations have interbred with them, some over the last 3,000 years, and have some of those genes, people had assumed they must have settled and then moved on to the next island, settled and moved on. It doesn't look like they did that now. It looks like it really changes our view of history. So it's pretty significant." Read more at archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com...
originally posted by: JackKcaj
I don't understand what is so much the big revelation about this. What is the hypothesis that is proposed here to explain the DNA findings? I want to know the why, and until then, "keep on going, these people are cannibals" or whatever somebody else said sounds decent enough. Maybe they didn't have anything valuable to trade or were not very attractive or what, who knows. Maybe aliens did it. Or robot Clinton. I want to know what the crazy weird conspiracy theory is with this finding.
Geologists thought the volcanic Vanuatu islands, about 2,200km east of Townsville, were isolated from continental influences. But a research team from James Cook University believes Vanuatu’s geological basement contains ancient material from northern Australia.
originally posted by: Snarl
a reply to: JackKcaj
Simply put ... the people had been on those islands relatively undisturbed for 40,000 years. How did they evolve in the same way everyone else did?
Two distinct human groups are represented in the two caves by their bones:
1. a relatively recent Polynesian people whose remains are concentrated near the entrance of the caves, they represent modern Homo sapiens with dates ranging from 2,900 to 900 years before the present. These are most likely to represent the ancestors of the present native Palauans.
2. a more ancient pygmy-like population (C14-dated from 2,900 to 1,400 years before the present) was discovered in the deeper recesses of the caves. These remains suggest a short-statured population with body heights ranging from 0.94 cm to 1.2 m and an estimated body weight of 31.5 to 40.5 kg. The older bones also differ from modern humans in that they show some primitive features of Homo sapiens.
On the one hand, the Palau pygmies are similar in stature to Homo floresiensis from Flores island, Indonesia (also known as "Hobbits", see our chapter 49. Indonesia). But body height is not everything. The Palauans in other ways are anatomically closer to modern Homo sapiens than to the Hobbits. Palauan brain size is double that of the Hobbits and much closer to that of modern humans, while their shape of face and hips also are those of modern humans.
On the other hand, there are differences apart from stature to modern humans and similarities to the Hobbits. Some of the Palau pygmies lacked chins, had relatively large jaws and teeth, and relatively small eye sockets. These are features that once were were considered relevant when declaring the Hobbits to be an "archaic" people. The Palau people now seem to indicate that that these traits are caused by insular dwarfism which is an evolutionary process occurring in many mammal species (including, apparently, in humans) in restricted island environments.
Palau has no native terrestrial mammals or large reptiles that those earliest inhabitants could have hunted. Archaeological remains indicate that fishing in the area began only around 1,700 years ago, when Polynesians colonized Palau. It is not clear what the Palauans hunted and gathered and how they lived.
The researchers believe that the extremely small size of the first Palauans was due to the limited food items, tropical climate, lack of predators, a small founding gene pool and long isolation. Such an adaptation (if it took place on Paulau and the new arrivals were not already pymgies when they first stepped ashore) would take many thousands of years. It remains a completely open question just how long before the oldest date so far (2,900 years before the present) they had occupied the island.
The controversy raging around the interpretation and classification of Hobbits has already spilt over into the interpretation of the oldest Palauans and it will spill a great deal more in the coming months and years, no doubt.
originally posted by: schuyler
Cultural contact is not quite the same thing as a massive migration of people, which this is about. You can expect to find artifacts that tend to show trade, if even through intermediaries. For an example from the other side of the world, there is a church in Roswell, Scotland, just outside of Edinburgh, that shows clear sculptures of cactus and corn, i.e. maize, on the walls. These are both New World plants unknown before Columbus. yet the church was built in the early 1300's. Obviously there had to have been some sort of contact between the two continents across the Atlantic Ocean. There's no other possible explanation. But none of that, even if extensive, implies migration patterns.