DNA from some hair samples which were gathered from Aboriginal Australians unveiled their ancestors, indicating that the same genes were present in these regions for 50,000 years. The new study was published in the Nature magazine on March 8th. Through these findings, researchers managed to reinforce the connection between Aboriginal communities.
Moreover, researchers managed to develop the first detailed genetic map of Aboriginal Australians after the Europeans’ arrival. The new study called the Aboriginal Heritage Project comprises the results of the research developed by the South Australian Museum in partnership with the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD).
Scientists have analyzed 111 hair samples searching for mitochondrial DNA. These hair samples were gathered during various anthropological explorations which occurred from 1928 to the 1970s in Australia. These DNA samples were part of the South Australian Museum’s collection. Mitochondrial DNA is used to trace maternal ancestry.
The results indicated that Aboriginal Australians descended from a founding population which arrived in this area approximately 50,000 years ago. Back then, Australia was still linked to New Guinea. In those times, communities managed to spread rapidly around the west and east coasts of Australia. Thus, they met in South Australia.
Professor Alan Cooper, the director of ACAD, University of Adelaide, claimed that the core population patterns from 50,000 years ago have lasted until today, indicating that communities wandered around the same geographical areas. This represents a unique case, supporting the outstanding Aboriginal cultural bond to the country.
Cooper argues that he together with his colleagues hope that the current project will lead to an eventual rewriting of some of the history texts regarding Australia to include detailed Aboriginal history. One of the main pillars of the Aboriginal Heritage Project is represented by the fact that Aboriginal communities and families have been involved with this project from the beginning, allowing the development of analyses.
Before scientists published this study, they have discussed the results obtained with the families to reveal Aboriginal perspectives. The scientific model was designed under the guidance of professional ethicists, the Genographic Project, and the Aboriginal elders. The project lasted for a decade, and it is bound to provide people with Aboriginal heritage to track back their ancestry, reconstructing their family genealogical history.
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