Hair Shows Aborigine Ancestors Were First to Explore World
By Frances Schwartzkopff - Sep 23, 2011 8:10 AM PT
Scientists are rewriting the history of human migration based on a 100-year-old hair sample.
Genetic analysis by Danish researchers of curly, dark- colored locks indicates that Australian Aborigines are direct descendants of the first people to migrate out of Africa, according to findings published in the journal Science. The Aborigines? forebears probably made their way across the world 24,000 years before another wave led Europe?s and Asia?s settlement, the scientists said.
The analysis of the hair, donated by an Aborigine man to a British anthropologist a century ago, shows that Aborigines? ancestors split from the first populations in Africa 62,000 to 75,000 years ago, moving east and eventually to Australia. Europe and Asia were first settled as many as 38,000 years ago, the researchers said.
?Our findings support the hypothesis that present-day Aboriginal Australians descend from the earliest humans to occupy Australia, likely representing one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa,? the researchers wrote in the study.
The findings contradict the view of a single exodus from Africa that populated the rest of the world yet fits better with archeological findings that show human inhabitation of Australia as long as 50,000 years ago, according to the study?s authors.
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