An international study published on Sept. 21 in the journal Nature shows that the ancestors of indigenous people in Australia and Papua New Guinea left Africa in a single wave of migration that occurred 50,000 years ago. This supports the claim that Aboriginal Australians are the most ancient continuous civilization and the first people to arrive in Australia, a claim that has been the subject of scientific debate for many years.
“This story has been missing for a long time in science. Now we know their relatives are the guys who were the first real human explorers. Our ancestors were sitting being kind of scared of the world while they set out on this exceptional journey across Asia and across the sea,” says University of Copenhagen’s evolutionary geneticist, Eske Willerslev.
The study involved DNA analysis of 83 Indigenous Australians and 25 Papuans. The researchers were able to trace their origins and determine that they were isolated until 4,000 years ago, allowing Willerslev to make the conclusion that they are the oldest group on Earth that we can link to one place.
It turns out that Indigenous Australians could have met other unknown species of hominin, based on the four percent unknown hominin genes on their DNA.
Another study, led by Harvard Medical School that also appears simultaneously in the same journal reveals that all non-Africans today descended from a single migration out of Africa. This study involved analyzing two genomes each from 51 populations represented in the Human Genome Diversity Project. It also included samples from Native American, South Asian and African populations and other groups that were not previously studied in other genome research.
This study also reveals that the common ancestors of modern humans started to differentiate around 200,000 years ago, at least. This was long before the out-of-Africa migration happened.