Gene flow from India to Australia about 4,000 years ago

Jan 14, 2013
4,000 years ago, Australia was no longer connected to the mainland as it had been during the ice age. The immigrants thus crossed the ocean, arriving by boat. Credit: Gunter Senft/MPI for Psycholinguistics

Long before Europeans settled in Australia humans had migrated from the Indian subcontinent to Australia and mixed with Australian aborigines.

Australia is thought to have remained largely isolated between its initial colonization around 40,000 years ago and the arrival of Europeans in the late 1800s. A study led by researchers of the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, now finds evidence of substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Australia about 4,000 years ago. In addition, the researchers found a common origin for Australian, New Guinean and the Philippine Mamanwa populations. These populations followed an early southern out of Africa, while other populations settled in the region only at a later date.

Australia holds some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of modern humans outside Africa, with the earliest sites dated to at least 45,000 years ago, making Australian aboriginals one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa. It is commonly assumed that following the initial dispersal of people into Sahul (joint Australia-New Guinea landmass) and until the arrival of the Europeans late in the 18th Century, there was no contact between Australia and the rest of the world.

Researcher Irina Pugach and colleagues now analysed from across the genome from aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians, and Indians. Their findings suggest substantial from India to Australia 4,230 years ago, i.e. during the Holocene and well before European contact. "Interestingly," says Pugach, "this date also coincides with many changes in the of Australia, which include a sudden change in plant processing and stone tool technologies, with microliths appearing for the first time, and the first appearance of the dingo in the fossil record. Since we detect inflow of genes from India into Australia at around the same time, it is likely that these changes were related to this migration."

Their analyses also reveal a common origin for populations from Australia, New Guinea and the Mamanwa – a Negrito group from the Philippines – and they estimated that these groups split from each other about 36,000 years ago. Mark Stoneking says: "This finding supports the view that these populations represent the descendants of an early 'southern route' migration out of Africa, while other populations in the region arrived later by a separate dispersal." This also indicates that Australians and New Guineans diverged early in the history of Sahul, and not when the lands were separated by rising sea waters around 8,000 years ago.

Explore further: Chickens to chili peppers: Scientists search for the first genetic engineers

More information: Irina Pugach, Frederick Delfin, Ellen Gunnarsdóttir, Manfred Kayser, Mark Stoneking, Genome-wide data substantiates Holocene gene flow from India to Australia, PNAS, Online Early Edition, January 2013

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User comments : 9

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dr_San
not rated yet Jan 15, 2013
Really interesting, it shows that people in India that time had developed the catamaran to travel and they started discovering the earth in and around the globe....
Allex
5 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2013
around the globe....

A trip from Indian subcontinent to Australia is hardly 'around the globe'.
Rohitasch
not rated yet Jan 15, 2013
Interesting. Especially so because it seems to have happened at the time when the Indus Valley Civilization had just started heading towards its decline.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
1 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2013
The background is interesting too, since it may confirm a language connection between New Guinea and Australia:

"It has been suggested that most or all Australian languages have a relationship with the Trans–New Guinea languages.[7][8] or the Sepik–Ramu languages.[9] Neither of these conclusions is currently widely accepted." http://en.wikiped...anguages
Sigh
not rated yet Jan 15, 2013
The caption is inaccurate, at least if the mainland mentioned is supposed to be Asia. Deep water separated the two areas even when the water level was at its lowest. See https://en.wikipe...ace_Line
katesisco
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2013
It would appear that people were everywhere, even at the 50,000 mark. I wish I could have seen Earth at 50,000bc, would there have been ice everywhere except the equator? 20,000 y ago is supposedly when our ice melt began but maybe not.
If people were thick on the ground even then it would explain this dispora. More of a conjecture, if this twist of energy that created the Himalaya uplift is that recent, the people who would have been living there would have been ousted. If India left Africa and moved north then it would explain the dispora.
Allex
not rated yet Feb 06, 2013
would there have been ice everywhere except the equator?

No. Continental ice sheets are not only dependant of temperature but more so of precipitation. How do you expect them to cross latitudinal desert belts?

We have a wealth of geomorphological landforms showing the maximum extent of the recent ice sheets - around 35 N.
20,000 y ago is supposedly when our ice melt began but maybe not.

What makes you think it didn't?
More of a conjecture, if this twist of energy that created the Himalaya uplift is that recent, the people who would have been living there would have been ousted. If India left Africa and moved north then it would explain the dispora.

Yyyyy... no.
We have a pretty good idea when the separation of the Indian subcontinent occurred and it wasn't close to 20 000 years ago. More like 120 mln years.
arq
not rated yet Feb 12, 2013
"It would appear that people were everywhere, even at the 50,000 mark. I wish I could have seen Earth at 50,000bc, would there have been ice everywhere except the equator? 20,000 y ago is supposedly when our ice melt began but maybe not. If people were thick on the ground even then it would explain this dispora. More of a conjecture, if this twist of energy that created the Himalaya uplift is that recent, the people who would have been living there would have been ousted. If India left Africa and moved north then it would explain the dispora."

Based on evidence upto now and what i have concluded from it, migrations....TENS of thousands of years ago were primarily only by the negrito groups out of africa and into asia and upto australia (they became part of some populations of south east asian countries and the aboriginal australian populations mentioned in the article)

And migrations after the ice melt (later than 20,000 bc-10,000 bc) were by the caucasoid groups.
arq
not rated yet Feb 12, 2013

i have no idea about mongoloid peoples' expansion.

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