Are there dark skinned people in Australia

Genetic history of the Australian population first deciphered

The settlement of Australia and the history of the people who live on this continent is still hotly debated in scientific circles. Previous demographic information about Aborigines was based on only three different Aboriginal genomes. One of them came from a tuft of hair from a deceased person. The origin of the other two cell lines is not fully understood. With the help of co-authors of Australian Aboriginal origin, an international research team has now sequenced 83 modern genomes from Aboriginal people and 25 modern genomes from Papua. The researchers combined this genetic data with linguistic data to trace the settlement of Australia. The study reveals, among other things, three basic historical dates and contains several important findings on early human populations. The paper, which is published today in the journal “Nature”, is the result of close collaboration between international research teams and representatives of the Aborigines. Both the main author, Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas, and the head of the research group, Laurent Excoffier, conduct research at the Institute for Ecology and Evolution at the University of Bern and at the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics (SIB).

72,000 years ago: A joint hike "Out of Africa"

Previous studies have assumed that the ancestors of modern Papuans and Australians would have had to emigrate from Africa much earlier than any other population in order to be able to reach New Guinea and Australia around 47,000 years ago, as fossil finds suggest. However, based on their findings, the researchers working with Anna Malaspinas rather estimate that an ancient population left the African continent 72,000 years ago, from which the Australian Aborigines, the Europeans and the East Asians later emerged. Laurent Excoffier from the Institute for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Population Genetics, and the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics (SIB) explains: “It was controversial to what extent the Australian Aborigines represent their own out-of-Africa migration. We found that - taking into account intermingling with archaic people - the majority of the genetic makeup comes from the same emigration from Africa as that of other non-Africans. "

37,000 years ago: Australian first settlers and their neighbors are diverging

According to the researchers, the Australian Aborigines isolated themselves from their neighbors 37,000 years ago - long before New Guinea and Australia were geographically separated (10,000 years ago). "For a long time it was unclear how Australian Aborigines got to Australia," says co-author Eske Willerslev from the Center for GeoGenetics in Copenhagen. "Likewise, further questions, such as their relationship to other groups, have not been able to be clarified either technologically or politically."

31,000 years ago: One continent - huge genetic diversity

With this first comprehensive recording of the genomes of Australian Aborigines, it was possible to prove that the common ancestors of all Aborigines go back further than assumed. 31,000 years ago, the Australian indigenous population began to structure itself into several populations, which gave rise to the genetic diversity observed today. Main author Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas says: “The genetic diversity among Australian Aborigines is amazing. Groups from the southwestern desert differ genetically from those in northeastern Australia, just like Europeans and East Asians. " This supports the claim that the continent has been settled by Australian Aborigines for a very long time.

Publication information:

Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas et al .: A Genomic History of Aboriginal Australia, Nature, September 21, 2016, DOI: 10.1038 / nature18299