Ancient Africa Lives on in Bay of Bengal

Pulled this off of e-drum… wonderful story.

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An Ancient Link to Africa Lives on in Bay of Bengal

You probably already know this but I thought if you

didn’t it would be interesting.

http://www26.brinkster.com/archived/

heres a link to another site

http://andaman.nic.in/C_charter/Dir_tw/pri_tri.htm

Author: NICHOLAS WADE

Filed: 12/11/2002, 12:23:50 AM

Source: The New York Times

Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, a remote

archipelago east of India, are direct descendants of

the first modern humans to have inhabited Asia,

geneticists conclude in a new study.

But the islanders lack a distinctive genetic feature

found among Australian aborigines, another early group

to leave Africa, suggesting they were part of a

separate exodus.

The Andaman Islanders are “arguably the most enigmatic

people on our planet,” a team of geneticists led by

Dr. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo write in

the journal Current Biology.

Their physical features — short stature, dark skin,

peppercorn hair and large buttocks — are

characteristic of African Pygmies. “They look like

they belong in Africa, but here they are sitting in

this island chain in the middle of the Indian Ocean,”

said Dr. Peter Underhill of Stanford University, a

co-author of the new report.

Adding to the puzzle is that their language, according

to Joseph Greenberg, who, before his death in 2001,

classified the world’s languages, belongs to a family

that includes those of Tasmania, Papua New Guinea and

Melanesia.

Dr. Hagelberg has undertaken the first genetic

analysis of the Andamanese with the help of two Indian

colleagues who took blood samples — the islands belong

to India — and by analyzing hair gathered almost a

century ago by a British anthropologist, Alfred

Radcliffe-Brown. The islands were isolated from the

outside world until the British set up a penal colony

there after the Indian mutiny of 1857.

Only four of the dozen tribes that once inhabited the

island survive, with a total population of about 500

people. These include the Jarawa, who still live in

the forest, and the Onge, who have been settled by the

Indian government.

Genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA, a genetic

element passed down only through women, shows that the

Onge and Jarawa people belong to a lineage, known as

M, that is common throughout Asia, the geneticists

say. This establishes them as Asians, not Africans,

among whom a different mitochondrial lineage, called

L, is dominant.

The geneticists then looked at the Y chromosome, which

is passed down only through men and often gives a more

detailed picture of genetic history than the

mitochondrial DNA. The Onge and Jarawa men turned out

to carry a special change or mutation in the DNA of

their Y chromosome that is thought to be indicative of

the Paleolithic population of Asia, the hunters and

gatherers who preceded the first human settlements.

The mutation, known as Marker 174, occurs among ethnic

groups at the periphery of Asia who avoided being

swamped by the populations that spread after the

agricultural revolution that occurred about 8,000

years ago. It is found in many Japanese, in the

Tibetans of the Himalayas and among isolated people of

Southeast Asia, like the Hmong.

The discovery of Marker 174 among the Andamanese

suggests that they too are part of this relict

Paleolithic population, descended from the first

modern humans to leave Africa.

Dr. Underhill, an expert on the genetic history of the

Y chromosome, said the Paleolithic population of Asia

might well have looked as African as the Onge and

Jarawa do now, and that people with the appearance of

present-day Asians might have emerged only later. It

is also possible, he said, that their resemblance to

African Pygmies is a human adaptation to living in

forests that the two populations developed

independently.

A finding of particular interest is that the

Andamanese do not carry another Y chromosome

signature, known as Marker RPS4Y, that is common among

Australian aborigines.

This suggests that there were at least two separate

emigrations of modern humans from Africa, Dr.

Underhill said. Both probably left northeast Africa by

boat 40,000 or 50,000 years ago and pushed slowly

along the coastlines of the Arabian Peninsula and

India. No archaeological record of these epic journeys

has been found, perhaps because the world’s oceans

were 120 meters lower during the last ice age and the

evidence of early human passage is under water.

One group of emigrants that acquired the Marker 174

mutation reached Southeast Asia, including the Andaman

islands, and then moved inland and north to Japan, in

Dr. Underhill’s reconstruction. A second group,

carrying the Marker RPS4Y, took a different fork in

Southeast Asia, continuing south toward Australia.

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