Saturday, October 15, 2011

1920s hair sample reveals Aboriginal Australians' explorer origins

Eske Willerslev led a research team that sequenced the genome of an aboriginal Australian individual from a 90-year old hair sample. Genetic analysis led to the conclusion that "Aboriginal Australians descended from the first human explorers," said Willerslev. This Aboriginal Australian individual was shown to be a descendant of the first human migration out of Africa over 60,000 years ago, since genetic analysis of his genome points to a divergence from other human populations at 60,000 years. Willerslev calls this migratory population the first explorers and that they must have possessed "exceptional survival skills and bravery" to have traversed over such a long distance to reach Australia. Another article on this study ( discusses that the modern Aboriginal Australian population was very excited upon hearing the results of this study, since it validates their strong connection to Australian land by "[establishing] Aboriginal Australians as the population with the longest association with the land on which they still live today."

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