Scientists analyze first ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia

phys.org | 5/17/2018 | Staff
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The first whole-genome analyses of ancient human DNA from Southeast Asia reveal that there were at least three major waves of human migration into the region over the last 50,000 years.

The research, published online May 17 in Science, complements what is known from archaeological, historical and linguistic studies of Southeast Asia, defined as the area east of India and south of China.

Work - Portion - Story - Population - Dynamics

The work illuminates another critical portion of the story of ancient population dynamics around the world, joining numerous ancient-DNA studies of Europe as well as burgeoning research from the Near East, Central Asia, Pacific Islands and Africa.

"A very important part of the world is now accessible for ancient DNA analysis," said Mark Lipson, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of ancient-DNA specialist David Reich at Harvard Medical School and first author of the study. "It opens a window into the genetic origins of the people who lived there in the past and those who live there now."

Team - Researchers - HMS - University - Vienna

An international team led by researchers at HMS and the University of Vienna extracted and analyzed DNA from the remains of 18 people who lived between about 4,100 and 1,700 years ago in what are now Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The team found that the first migration took place about 45,000 years ago, bringing in people who became hunter-gatherers.

Neolithic - Period - Years - Influx - People

Then, during the Neolithic Period, around 4,500 years ago, there was a large-scale influx of people from China who introduced farming practices to Southeast Asia and mixed with the local hunter-gatherers.

People today with this ancestry mix tend to speak Austroasiatic languages, leading the researchers to propose that the farmers who came from the north were early Austroasiatic speakers.

Study - Interplay - Archaeology - Genetics - Language

"This study reveals a complex interplay between archaeology, genetics and language, which is critical for understanding the history of Southeast Asian populations," said co-senior author Ron Pinhasi of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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