Sunday, May 22, 2005

News: Early humans out of Africa via the coast

Here are some abstracts of articles from Science journal on southern coastal migrations out of Africa.

Paul Kekai Manansala

Single, Rapid Coastal Settlement of Asia Revealed by Analysis of
Complete Mitochondrial Genomes

Vincent Macaulay, Catherine Hill, Alessandro Achilli, Chiara Rengo,
Douglas Clarke, William Meehan, James Blackburn, Ornella Semino,
Rosaria Scozzari, Fulvio Cruciani, Adi Taha, Norazila Kassim
Shaari, Joseph Maripa Raja, Patimah Ismail, Zafarina Zainuddin,
William Goodwin, David Bulbeck, Hans-Jurgen Bandelt,
Stephen Oppenheimer, Antonio Torroni, and Martin Richards
p. 1034

A recent dispersal of modern humans out of Africa is now widely
accepted, but the routes taken across Eurasia are still disputed. We
show that mitochondrial DNA variation in isolated "relict"
populations in southeast Asia supports the view that there was only
a single dispersal from Africa, most likely via a southern coastal
route, through India and onward into southeast Asia and Australasia.
There was an early offshoot, leading ultimately to the settlement of
the Near East and Europe, but the main dispersal from India to
Australia 65,000 years ago was rapid, most likely taking only a few
thousand years.
p. 996

Reconstructing the Origin of Andaman Islanders
Kumarasamy Thangaraj,1 Gyaneshwer Chaubey,1 Toomas Kivisild,2 Alla G.
Reddy,1 Vijay Kumar Singh,1 Avinash A. Rasalkar,1 Lalji Singh1*

The origin of the Andaman "Negrito" and Nicobar "Mongoloid"
populations has been ambiguous. Our analyses of complete
mitochondrial DNA sequences from Onges and Great Andaman populations
revealed two deeply branching clades that share their most recent
common ancestor in founder haplogroup M, with lineages spread among
India, Africa, East Asia, New Guinea, and Australia. This
distribution suggests that these two clades have likely survived in
genetic isolation since the initial settlement of the islands during
an out-of-Africa migration by anatomically modern humans. In
contrast, Nicobarese sequences illustrate a close genetic
relationship with populations from Southeast Asia.

Enhanced: Did Early Humans Go North or South?
Peter Forster and Shuichi Matsumura

When the first early humans ventured out of Africa, which way did
they go? Studies of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA are
revealing the excursion choices of our earliest ancestors. In their
Perspective, Forster and Matsumura discuss two new studies of the
mitochondrial DNA of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia and the
Andaman islands (Macaulay et al., Thangaraj et al.). These studies
suggest that the earliest humans took a southern route along the
coastline of the Indian Ocean before fanning out over the rest of
the world.