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Im definately the outdoors type, hobbies include my daily walks on the beach and A wealth of archaeological evidence, including intricate pottery, indicates people associated with the Lapita culture were the first to colonise the remote islands in the Pacific in the last major dispersal of people to unpopulated lands 3, years ago.

But until this analysis we did not know who these people were, the study's co-author Professor Matthew Spriggs of the Australian National University said. The relationship between the Lapita people and Papuan people, which dominated the region for 50, years, has been long debated. But many archaeologists thought the Lapita mixed with the Papuan population as they travelled down through New Guinea and the Solomon Islands before setting out towards the remote islands 3, years ago. Finally, a genetic analysis by a team led by Dr David Reich at Harvard University revealed three skeletons aged between 3, years and 2, years contained no traces of Papuan DNA.

A fourth Lapita skeleton aged between 2, and 2, years that was excavated in Tonga by a second team, led by Dr Geoffrey Clark of the Australian National University, and analysed at a different lab in Germany, also contained no Papuan DNA.

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An additional analysis of DNA volunteered by present day people from East Asia and Oceania shows all four skeletons contain unique DNA that no longer exists, but is similar to that found in Aboriginal groups from Taiwan and some northern Philippine populations. The analysis also showed that the Asian genes in today's Pacific people came from these first remote Oceanians. He said the finding, reported in the journal Nature , challenged the use of labels such as Melanesian and Polynesian to describe peoples from different parts of the Pacific.

Not only did the genetic data show the Asian ancestry in today's South Pacific Islanders comes from the Lapita, but that it was more likely to come from women than men.

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This indicated the first wave of Lapita seafarers was soon followed by a second wave of Papuan people — mainly men. Just when the two lineages came across each other on the islands spread across the Pacific is unclear. But for Polynesia we have an absolute date by which it must have occurred which is 1, years ago.


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At that time, the population started moving out from Tonga and Samoa to the eastern Pacific Islands of Hawaii and Tahiti, then years ago travelled south to become the Maori population in New Zealand. But more work with ancient DNA from skeletons of different ages would be needed to clarify exactly when the mixes happened in various locations, Professor Spriggs said. Commenting on the study, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA Professor Alan Cooper said the paper provided a lot more information about the Pacific and Polynesian origins "that was just conjecture before".

He said the study also raised questions about when the Papuan mix happened in Tonga and subsequently in Polynesia, whose people today have 26 per cent Papuan DNA.

He said it also raised questions about the identity of the ancient Papuan people, who had a mix of Australian Aboriginal and Papuan DNA. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content. Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow. Space Nature Humans Technology Programs.

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Audio Player failed to load. Load more chevron right. DNA was extracted from this 3, year old skull and mandible from Vanuatu. A loop motif displayed on a shard of Lapita pottery recovered from Nukuleka in Tonga.

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