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New Evidence Shows Gene Link Between Indians and Australians 4,000 Years Ago

Jan 15, 2013 04:06 AM EST

A new genetic study shows evidence of a gene link between Indians and Australian aborigines more than 4,000 years ago.

It was previously thought that Australia remained isolated between its initial colonization of humans around 40,000 years ago and the arrival of Europeans late in the 18th century.

But a new study by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has revealed that Indians migrated to Australia during the Holocene period.

For their study, the research team analyzed the DNA of 344 people including aboriginal Australians, New Guineans, island Southeast Asians, and Indians. They found substantial evidence showing a gene flow between Indians and Australians. The genetic influence appeared in 10 percent of the Australian Aborigine population that was analyzed, reports LiveScience.

Indians are also believed to have introduced the dingo, an animal that closely resembles Indian dogs, to Australia. Researchers believe that Indians might have brought stone tools after their arrival in the island continent about 4,230 years ago.

"Interestingly, this date also coincides with many changes in the archaeological record of Australia, which include a sudden change in plant processing and stone tool technologies, with microliths appearing for the first time, and the first appearance of the dingo in the fossil record. Since we detect inflow of genes from India into Australia at around the same time, it is likely that these changes were related to this migration," Max Planck researcher Irina Pugach said in a statement.

Pugach and her colleagues also found a common origin for Australian, New Guinean and the Mamanwa populations - a group from the Philippines. Researchers estimated that these groups split from each other about 36,000 years ago. Until then, Australia and New Guinea was a joint landmass called Sahul.

The findings of the study appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

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