Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists sequence genome of man who was Aboriginal Australian

Date:
September 22, 2011
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
Researchers have for the first time sequenced the genome of a man who was an Aboriginal Australian. They have shown that modern day Aboriginal Australians are the direct descendents of the first people who arrived on the continent some 50,000 years ago and that those ancestors left Africa earlier than their European and Asian counterparts.

Early photo of an Aboriginal Australian. Scientists have for the first time sequenced the genome of a man who was an Aboriginal Australian. They have shown that modern day Aboriginal Australians are the direct descendents of the first people who arrived on the continent some 50,000 years ago and that those ancestors left Africa earlier than their European and Asian counterparts.
Credit: University of Copenhagen

An international team of researchers, including a UK collaboration led by BBSRC- and MRC-funded researchers at Imperial College London, with colleagues at University College London, and University of Cambridge has for the first time sequenced the genome of a man who was an Aboriginal Australian. They have shown that modern day Aboriginal Australians are the direct descendents of the first people who arrived on the continent some 50,000 years ago and that those ancestors left Africa earlier than their European and Asian counterparts.

Related Articles


The work is published September 22, 2011 in the journal Science.

Although there is good archaeological evidence that shows humans in Australia around 50,000 years ago, this genome study re-writes the story of their journey there. The study provides good evidence that Aboriginal Australians are descendents of the earliest modern explorers, leaving Africa around 24,000 years before their Asian and European counterparts. This is contrary to the previous and most widely accepted theory that all modern humans derive from a single out-of-Africa migration wave into Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, who led the study, said "While the ancestors of Europeans and Asians were sitting somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, yet to explore their world further, the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians spread rapidly; the first modern humans traversing unknown territory in Asia and finally crossing the sea into Australia. It was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery."

Dr Francois Balloux, MRC Centre for Outbreak, Analysis and Modelling, Imperial College London, led the UK team, he said "Thanks to tremendous progress in sequencing technologies it is much easier to compare genomes of individual people, including those from geographically distinct populations. And by doing this you can learn a lot about when and via what route they came to be where they are today. In this way, the science of genomics makes a unique contribution to our understanding of when and how humans colonised the world."

The study derived from a lock of hair donated to a British anthropologist by an Aboriginal man from the Goldfields region of Western Australia in the early 20th century. One hundred years later, researchers have isolated DNA from this same hair, using it to explore the genetics of the first Australians and to provide insights into how humans first dispersed across the globe.

By sequencing the genome, which was shown to have no genetic input from modern European Australians, the researchers demonstrated that Aboriginal Australians descend directly from an early human expansion into Asia that took place some 70,000 years ago, at least 24,000 years before the population movements that gave rise to present-day Europeans and Asians.

This research is presented with the full endorsement of the Goldfields Land and Sea Council, the organization that represents the Aboriginal traditional owners for the region.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive, BBSRC said "In a new era of rapid genome sequencing, one of the most powerful approaches to understanding human biology will be to make comparisons between the genomes of multiple individuals -- so-called population genomics. One of the options is to do this according to geography and so learn about, for example, early human migration or the localised evolution of health and disease."

The research was carried out by an international consortium led by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, with colleagues in Australia, Canada, China, Estonia, France, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, UK and USA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Morten Rasmussen et al. An Aboriginal Australian Genome Reveals Separate Human Dispersals into Asia. Science, September 22, 2011 DOI: 10.1126/science.1211177

Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Scientists sequence genome of man who was Aboriginal Australian." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922141905.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2011, September 22). Scientists sequence genome of man who was Aboriginal Australian. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922141905.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Scientists sequence genome of man who was Aboriginal Australian." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110922141905.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Aboriginal Australians: The First Explorers

Sep. 22, 2011 In an exciting development, researchers have, for the first time, pieced together the human genome from an Aboriginal Australian. The results re-interpret the prehistory of our ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins