Ancient voyaging and polynesian origins

Pedro Soares, Teresa Rito, Jean A. Trejaut, Maru Mormina, Catherine Hill, Emma Tinkler-Hundal, Michelle Braid, Douglas J. Clarke, Jun-hun Loo, Noel Thomson, Tim Denham, Mark Donohue, Vincent Macaulay, Marie Lin, Stephen Oppenheimer, Martin B. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

105 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The "Polynesian motif" defines a lineage of human mtDNA that is restricted to Austronesian-speaking populations and is almost fixed in Polynesians. It is widely thought to support a rapid dispersal of maternal lineages from Taiwan ∼4000 years ago (4 ka), but the chronological resolution of existing control-region data is poor, and an East Indonesian origin has also been proposed. By analyzing 157 complete mtDNA genomes, we show that the motif itself most likely originated >6 ka in the vicinity of the Bismarck Archipelago, and its immediate ancestor is >8 ka old and virtually restricted to Near Oceania. This indicates that Polynesian maternal lineages from Island Southeast Asia gained a foothold in Near Oceania much earlier than dispersal from either Taiwan or Indonesia 3-4 ka would predict. However, we find evidence in minor lineages for more recent two-way maternal gene flow between Island Southeast Asia and Near Oceania, likely reflecting movements along a "voyaging corridor" between them, as previously proposed on archaeological grounds. Small-scale mid-Holocene movements from Island Southeast Asia likely transmitted Austronesian languages to the long-established Southeast Asian colonies in the Bismarcks carrying the Polynesian motif, perhaps also providing the impetus for the expansion into Polynesia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-247
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Volume88
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2011

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    Soares, P., Rito, T., Trejaut, J. A., Mormina, M., Hill, C., Tinkler-Hundal, E., ... Richards, M. B. (2011). Ancient voyaging and polynesian origins. American Journal of Human Genetics, 88(2), 239-247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.01.009