A new study reveals some incredible secrets of how we got out of Africa and spread throughout the world.
A huge discovery by scientists reveals some tremendous secrets of the early history of mankind — specifically, how we migrated out of Africa to other places throughout the world. It’s one of the great mysteries that scientists have been discovering, as it represents a pivotal moment in human history — the moment when we sought to conquer the globe.
The study suggests that the genetic ancestry of everyone living outside of the continent can be traced to a single exodus of humans many years ago, although a smaller earlier exit may be seen in native islanders found in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. That’s according to three studies examining modern DNA worldwide.
Homo sapiens has been around for 200,000 years, and since it arose, our species has colonized every corner of the globe, but the exact nature of that expansion has remained elusive to scientists. This new study looks at the tiny changes accumulated in human DNA over millenia, and used it to estimate how long ago two populations splits off from each other. And the results were quite intriguing.
“The population history of Aboriginal Australians remains largely uncharacterized,” the abstract of the paper states. “Here we generate high-coverage genomes for 83 Aboriginal Australians (speakers of Pama–Nyungan languages) and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea Highlands. We find that Papuan and Aboriginal Australian ancestors diversified 25–40 thousand years ago (kya), suggesting pre-Holocene population structure in the ancient continent of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania). However, all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10–32 kya.
“We infer a population expansion in northeast Australia during the Holocene epoch (past 10,000 years) associated with limited gene flow from this region to the rest of Australia, consistent with the spread of the Pama–Nyungan languages,” it continues. “We estimate that Aboriginal Australians and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51–72 kya, following a single out-of-Africa dispersal, and subsequently admixed with archaic populations. Finally, we report evidence of selection in Aboriginal Australians potentially associated with living in the desert.”