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Pacific Islanders’ Ancestry Uncovered: Different Roots

Posted Nov 19 2009 10:02pm

The NY Times reported today about a genetic study that helps to confirm anthropological theories about the ancestral origins of the people living on the widely scattered Pacific Islands:

In an analysis of the DNA of 1,000 individuals from 41 Pacific populations, an international team of scientists found strong evidence showing that Polynesians and Micronesians in the central and eastern islands had almost no genetic relationship to Melanesians, in the western islands like Papua New Guinea and the Bismarck and Solomons archipelagos. …

The new genetic research, said Patrick V. Kirch, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is an authority on Pacific cultures, was “overwhelming biological evidence for a clear population movement out of Southeast Asia and Taiwan to Polynesia.”

Dr. Kirch, who did not participate in the genetic study, said that it reinforced research showing that Polynesian speech patterns were unrelated to Melanesian languages, suggesting — along with discoveries of the distinctive Lapita pottery across the Pacific — links to Taiwan and China, not Melanesia. “The combination of evidence shows we really can read this history,” he said.

As Dr. [Jonathan S.] Friedlaender [Temple University, study lead] said, “If it wasn’t exactly an express train, it was pretty fast, and very few passengers climbed aboard or got off along the way.”

Very interesting stuff! I find this particularly interesting how the experts are using genetic science in concert with anthropological and linguistic findings to solidify their theories. Now that’s what I call “genes in context.” And I bet that Blaine, the Genetic Genealogist might know of other instances of these disciplines coming together to provide answers to long-speculated questions.

NY Times: Pacific Islanders’ Ancestry Emerges in Genetic Study

Technorati Tags: ancestry, genetics, pacific islands, polynesia, micronesia, melanesia, linguistics, anthropology

This entry was posted on Friday, January 18th, 2008 at 1:46 pm and is filed under Ancestry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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