Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Aboriginal Australia – a Genomic History

The population history of Aboriginal Australians has remained largely uncharacterised. In this study Malaspinas et al. generate high-coverage genomics for 83 Australian Aboriginals, speakers of Pama-Nyungan languages, and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea Highlands. They found the that the ancestors of Australian Aboriginals and Papuans diversified 25-40 thousand years ago, which suggests that the pre-Holocene population structure of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania, at a time of lower sea level when all 3 landmasses were joined together in the single continent of Sahul. However, the results of the study suggest all of the Australian Aboriginals taking part in the study descended from a single population that differentiated about 10-32 ka. Malaspinas et al. infer that in the Holocene an expansion of the population in northeast Australia associate with limited gene flow from this region to the rest of Australia, which is consistent with the spread of the Pama-Nyungan languages. It was estimated by Malaspinas et al. that Australian Aboriginals and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51-72 ka following a single dispersal from Africa, and subsequently admixed with archaic populations. Malaspinas et al. also report that there is evidence that selection among Australian Aboriginal populations occurred associated with desert living.

see Almost all living people outside of Africa trace back to a single migration more than 50,000 years ago

Sources & Further reading

  1. Malaspinas, A.-S., M. C. Westaway, C. Muller, V. C. Sousa, O. Lao, I. Alves, A. Bergström, G. Athanasiadis, J. Y. Cheng, J. E. Crawford, T. H. Heupink, E. Macholdt, S. Peischl, S. Rasmussen, S. Schiffels, S. Subramanian, J. L. Wright, A. Albrechtsen, C. Barbieri, I. Dupanloup, A. Eriksson, A. Margaryan, I. Moltke, I. Pugach, T. S. Korneliussen, I. P. Levkivskyi, J. V. Moreno-Mayar, S. Ni, F. Racimo, M. Sikora, Y. Xue, F. A. Aghakhanian, N. Brucato, S. Brunak, P. F. Campos, W. Clark, S. Ellingvåg, G. Fourmile, P. Gerbault, D. Injie, G. Koki, M. Leavesley, B. Logan, A. Lynch, E. A. Matisoo-Smith, P. J. McAllister, A. J. Mentzer, M. Metspalu, A. B. Migliano, L. Murgha, M. E. Phipps, W. Pomat, D. Reynolds, F.-X. Ricaut, P. Siba, M. G. Thomas, T. Wales, C. M. r. Wall, S. J. Oppenheimer, C. Tyler-Smith, R. Durbin, J. Dortch, A. Manica, M. H. Schierup, R. A. Foley, M. M. Lahr, C. Bowern, J. D. Wall, T. Mailund, M. Stoneking, R. Nielsen, M. S. Sandhu, L. Excoffier, D. M. Lambert and E. Willerslev (2016). "A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia." Nature advance online publication.

Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 23/09/2016

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