Thursday, September 22, 2011

Australian Aborigine genome

I was wondering when they would get around to this. Australian Aborigines are one of the most unique human populations. Many people have been curious about their genetics and deep history.

Although I was just recently at BGI (where this sequencing was done), no one told me anything about a hair sample!

See also Razib's discussion.

Science: We present an Aboriginal Australian genomic sequence obtained from a 100-year-old lock of hair donated by an Aboriginal man from southern Western Australia in the early 20th century. We detect no evidence of European admixture and estimate contamination levels to be below 0.5%. We show that Aboriginal Australians are descendants of an early human dispersal into eastern Asia, possibly 62,000 to 75,000 years ago. This dispersal is separate from the one that gave rise to modern Asians 25,000 to 38,000 years ago. We also find evidence of gene flow between populations of the two dispersal waves prior to the divergence of Native Americans from modern Asian ancestors. Our findings support the hypothesis that present-day Aboriginal Australians descend from the earliest humans to occupy Australia, likely representing one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa.


botti said...

The Australian aborigines appear to have a particularly good visual memory which may be an adaptation for their hunter gatherer lifestyle?
"For example, Professor Clive Harper, a neuropathologist at the of the University of Sydney Hospital, claims to have found that among Aborigines, the area of the brain responsible for visual processing is 25 percent larger than average. Harper’s studies, the last of which was published in the Journal of Hirnforschung (Brain Research), indicates that Aboriginal children have near photographic memories, an evolutionary gift from their ancestors, who "had to master the vast landscape to survive."
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Wengchung said...

The Australian aboriginals have always hod absurdly low cognitive ability and I have always wondered why, I'm not certain of the well being of the populations tested, but purely nutritional variables and poverty are very difficult to explain  measures ability 2.3-2.6 standard deviations below average, it makes the other ethnic gaps seem trivial. I don't mean to be rude, but they look rather odd as an addition, I know this may come off as some sort of hate speech, but it is an observation that is shared by many and is mostly exclusive to this group.

When taking these two aspects of the people, their highly abnormal pysche and physique, is it even remotely plausible to turn to long term inbreeding as a potential cause for their deficits? I do believe they have existed in small and isolated populations for thousands of years, maybe tends of thousands (I'm not as well versed upon this as I'd like to be).

Yan Shen said...

Careful there. You're starting to sound like that delightful fellow Cornelius Troost...

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