Pulled this off of e-drum… wonderful story.
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.
heres a link to another site
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
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 â€” short stature, dark skin,
peppercorn hair and large buttocks â€” 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
Dr. Hagelberg has undertaken the first genetic
analysis of the Andamanese with the help of two Indian
colleagues who took blood samples â€” the islands belong
to India â€” 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
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
A finding of particular interest is that the
Andamanese do not carry another Y chromosome
signature, known as Marker RPS4Y, that is common among
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.