24 September 2011

There’s a revelatory article in Popular archaeology about research on a 100 year old lock of hair from a young Aboriginal man from Western Australia. The research team extracted enough DNA from the lock to sequence a complete genome of the man. This shows that Aboriginal Australians are directly descended from a very early migration of modern humans to leave east Africa. They left Africa about 62 000 to 75 000 years ago, arriving in Australia about 50 000 years ago.

The full text of the research article is online at Science here but requires payment for access.

The supporting materials for the research are online with free access
here. Note the opening section of the supporting materials (Definition of terms) which looks briefly at ways of categorising humans into classification units and says: “The fluid and complex nature of human variation means that any set of units will be imperfect” (page 3). Let’s remember that when talking easily about the English and Cornish and Arabs … We are all related, we are all family.

The Dienekes blog has a post on the research, as ever informative.

RASMUSSEN Morten et al ‘An Aboriginal Australian genome reveals separate human dispersals into Asia’ in Science 23 September 2011