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Thread: What is the relationship between Australians and Papuans?

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    What is the relationship between Australians and Papuans?

    The official version is that Australia was colonized by modern humans at least 40,000 years ago. It seems that the living population closest to Australian Aborigines (AAs) are Papuans, but they should still be quite different considering they diverged >40 YBP and AAs remained (more or less) isolated in Australia. So here are some questions I have:

    -Is genetic evidence consistent with the fact that AAs are descended from a single population, or there were likely several waves?

    -Aside from Papuans, do AAs show any relationship to any other living population outside Australia?

    -Is there any structure within Australia? Are AAs from certain regions closer to other populations from outside Australia?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milkyway View Post
    The official version is that Australia was colonized by modern humans at least 40,000 years ago. It seems that the living population closest to Australian Aborigines (AAs) are Papuans, but they should still be quite different considering they diverged >40 YBP and AAs remained (more or less) isolated in Australia. So here are some questions I have:

    -Is genetic evidence consistent with the fact that AAs are descended from a single population, or there were likely several waves?

    -Aside from Papuans, do AAs show any relationship to any other living population outside Australia?

    -Is there any structure within Australia? Are AAs from certain regions closer to other populations from outside Australia?
    Late response. I came across this article which might answer a few of your questions. Hopefully further research continues, as Queensland has the second largest Indigenous population in Australia, but not a lot of data was collected from here. It would be interesting to compare remote communities in different states to see if there are any noticeable differences. I found a haplogroup study as well.

    https://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/arti...us-australians

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347126/
    Ancestry on paper: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Croatian, Ashkenazi, Polish and Māori.

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    Generally this whole area is characterised by a lack of data in the public arena.
    Scientists have often not treated the australian first peoples well over the last two centuries or so, and they are therefore sometimes unwilling to participate in research.
    In addition, the invaders, have historically tended to turn any little nuance towards reasons for dispossessing our first peoples of some rights or respect.
    I am not going into details.

    For me, it seems that, broadly speaking, the ancestors of australian first peoples came to Sahul and through what is now the island of New Guinea to Australia.
    Using Papuan DNA as a proxy has some difficulties, however.
    There were later waves of people into the island of New Guinea, particularly the coastal regions; so the Papuan sample may be mixed.
    We know that some people of demonstrable aboriginal descent have no DNA link to the Papuan samples.
    Maybe all of that mob moved south, leaving nobody behind.

    There are lots of related issues of interest.

    There are some haplogroups that emerged later that are represented in Australia.
    Some might just be due to European sailors.
    Others are more like South East Asians, so may represent later minor contact or a limited migration.

    To some extent supporting this are some differences of first peoples from NW Australia from the rest.
    These people tend to speak languages that differ greatly from elsewhere, and those variant haplogroups tend to turn up there.
    But the area has been little sampled (at least for results that are publicly available), and there are some indicators that ALL australian first peoples' languages come originally from one source. So there are uncertainties.

    Finally, we have evidence from one animal species - non-marsupial, namely the dingo.
    Timing of its arrival is reasonably well determined; and raises a question of whether there might have been some people who migrated with them?
    The human DNA evidence does not tend to find any of this - if some people did come after the original settlers, they appear to have come much earlier than this.
    But it is just possible that some few people did arrive and have just been absorbed.

    Overall, we know that the first settlers to this land arrived some time before 40,000 years ago.
    We are not sure quite how much further back, but there is quite a bit of evidence suggesting more precise limits than that.
    Those other questions I posed above have far less to go on.
    They should NOT be areas for people to make definite statements at this time (unless they are holding new evidence or analysis).
    They may be used as springboards to further research - hopefully by or in full partnership with, our first peoples.

    These are broad statements from long reading of the area.
    But I don't claim to be an expert on this and would welcome insight from someone who is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saetro View Post
    Generally this whole area is characterised by a lack of data in the public arena.
    Scientists have often not treated the australian first peoples well over the last two centuries or so, and they are therefore sometimes unwilling to participate in research.
    In addition, the invaders, have historically tended to turn any little nuance towards reasons for dispossessing our first peoples of some rights or respect.
    I am not going into details.

    For me, it seems that, broadly speaking, the ancestors of australian first peoples came to Sahul and through what is now the island of New Guinea to Australia.
    Using Papuan DNA as a proxy has some difficulties, however.
    There were later waves of people into the island of New Guinea, particularly the coastal regions; so the Papuan sample may be mixed.
    We know that some people of demonstrable aboriginal descent have no DNA link to the Papuan samples.
    Maybe all of that mob moved south, leaving nobody behind.

    There are lots of related issues of interest.

    There are some haplogroups that emerged later that are represented in Australia.
    Some might just be due to European sailors.
    Others are more like South East Asians, so may represent later minor contact or a limited migration.

    To some extent supporting this are some differences of first peoples from NW Australia from the rest.
    These people tend to speak languages that differ greatly from elsewhere, and those variant haplogroups tend to turn up there.
    But the area has been little sampled (at least for results that are publicly available), and there are some indicators that ALL australian first peoples' languages come originally from one source. So there are uncertainties.

    Finally, we have evidence from one animal species - non-marsupial, namely the dingo.
    Timing of its arrival is reasonably well determined; and raises a question of whether there might have been some people who migrated with them?
    The human DNA evidence does not tend to find any of this - if some people did come after the original settlers, they appear to have come much earlier than this.
    But it is just possible that some few people did arrive and have just been absorbed.

    Overall, we know that the first settlers to this land arrived some time before 40,000 years ago.
    We are not sure quite how much further back, but there is quite a bit of evidence suggesting more precise limits than that.
    Those other questions I posed above have far less to go on.
    They should NOT be areas for people to make definite statements at this time (unless they are holding new evidence or analysis).
    They may be used as springboards to further research - hopefully by or in full partnership with, our first peoples.

    These are broad statements from long reading of the area.
    But I don't claim to be an expert on this and would welcome insight from someone who is.
    I agree with this, and the only way further, good quality research can continue is through various institutes continuing to build trust and good relationships with various communities. There is certainly a lot more to discover, but gaining the trust of community elders and other important leaders is a must for this to continue.
    Ancestry on paper: English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Croatian, Ashkenazi, Polish and Māori.

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    I would be extremely surprised if it finally turns out that there was only one major migration of humans to Australia that happened 47-55 KYA. After all, it is thought that virtually all non-Africans are descended from a single group that left Africa 55-60 KYA. This'd mean that Sahul was colonized relatively quickly by a group of hunter-gatherers that had recently migrated from Africa.

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    Here's this new paper: Papuan mitochondrial genomes and the settlement of Sahul

    PDF

    Abstract

    New Guineans represent one of the oldest locally continuous populations outside Africa, harboring among the greatest linguistic and genetic diversity on the planet. Archeological and genetic evidence suggest that their ancestors reached Sahul (present day New Guinea and Australia) by at least 55,000 years ago (kya). However, little is known about this early settlement phase or subsequent dispersal and population structuring over the subsequent period of time. Here we report 379 complete Papuan mitochondrial genomes from across Papua New Guinea, which allow us to reconstruct the phylogenetic and phylogeographic history of northern Sahul. Our results support the arrival of two groups of settlers in Sahul within the same broad time window (50–65 kya), each carrying a different set of maternal lineages and settling Northern and Southern Sahul separately. Strong geographic structure in northern Sahul remains visible today, indicating limited dispersal over time despite major climatic, cultural, and historical changes. However, following a period of isolation lasting nearly 20 ky after initial settlement, environmental changes postdating the Last Glacial Maximum stimulated diversification of mtDNA lineages and greater interactions within and beyond Northern Sahul, to Southern Sahul, Wallacea and beyond. Later, in the Holocene, populations from New Guinea, in contrast to those of Australia, participated in early interactions with incoming Asian populations from Island Southeast Asia and continuing into Oceania.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milkyway View Post
    I would be extremely surprised if it finally turns out that there was only one major migration of humans to Australia that happened 47-55 KYA. After all, it is thought that virtually all non-Africans are descended from a single group that left Africa 55-60 KYA. This'd mean that Sahul was colonized relatively quickly by a group of hunter-gatherers that had recently migrated from Africa.
    The Toba explosion in Indonesia around 75 kya is usually used as the earliest point that modern humans could have survived in the equatorial belt.
    There may have been some people in northern Asia - there were certainly earlier peoples there and in Europe.
    Allowing for possible error in this date as well as some regeneration adds a couple of thousand years at least.

    After that it's all about the earliest samples found in various places.
    And when the climate was right to follow a particular path.
    And how people were able to cross a body of water wider than they could see to the other side - for the first time - to get to Sahul or to Australia.

    Allen and O'Connell 2020 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/...1002/arco.5207
    summarised the dates for remnant human DNA.
    The low side of estimates does not go much beyond 50 kya.
    And these authors have a long history of looking at climatic changes, leading them to think that around 50 kya was just right.

    Yuen et al 2019 https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article.../5/942/5307028
    used a rougher measure from HBV virus arrival in Australia to come up with dates most likely around 50-60 kya, but their lower limits were around the mid 30s kya.

    A heap of papers mention other dates: - only one dated AMH sample in Sahul or Australia is really high - at 65kya in NW Australia.
    But that stands alone and has received mixed support.

    Other ancient DNA in the region is generally dated as no older than 40-47 kya.
    EXCEPT for that recent Papuan mtDNA paper mentioned by Milkyway just above.
    Elsewhere there have been questions about how to accurately date mtDNA mutations in this region of the world, so I await the input of those doubters on this paper.
    But they seem to be edging the date to around 50 kya or maybe a little more.

    All up, data are still patchy, but there is more support for something with a 5 in front.
    Last edited by Saetro; 11-11-2020 at 01:57 AM. Reason: Clarification

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